The Essential Practices To Keep Your Employees Engaged In 2016 And Beyond!

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How to Engage Your Employees in 2016 and Beyond

Last year the New York Daily News published an article that said nearly 70% of U.S. employees are miserable at work. American employees feel disengaged or disliked on the job. Companies are having difficulty figuring out a way to stimulate engagement with today’s employees, especially given today’s younger and more diverse workforce.

This struggle is real. Gallup Management Journal publishes a semi-annual Employment Engagement Index. The most recent results show:

  • Only 29 percent of employees are actively engaged in their jobs. These employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. People that are actively engaged help move the organization forward.
  • Fifty-four percent of employees are not engaged. These employees have essentially “checked out,” sleepwalking through their workday and putting time – but not passion – into their work. These people embody what Jack Welch said several years ago. To paraphrase him: “Never mistake activity for accomplishment.”
  • Seventeen percent of employees are actively disengaged. These employees are busy acting out their unhappiness, undermining what their engaged co-workers are trying to accomplish.
  • Just 30% of employees are engaged at work costing the nation $450 Billion to $500 Billion per year in lost productivity.

Employee engagement affects the mindset of the staff. Engaged employees believe they can make a difference in the organizations they work for. A Towers-Powers study survey cites that:

  • Eighty-four percent of highly engaged employees believe they can positively impact the quality of their organization’s products, compared with only 31 percent of the disengaged.
  • Seventy-two percent of highly engaged employees believe they can positively affect customer service, versus 27 percent of the disengaged.
  • Sixty-eight percent of highly engaged employees believe they can positively impact costs in their job or unit, compared with just 19 percent of the disengaged.

Given these statistics, it’s not rocket science to understand that companies that do a better job of engaging their employees outperform those that don’t. Employment engagement can not only make a real difference; it can set great organizations apart from the others. Motivating your employees is one of the toughest and important challenges within an organization. It’s very tempting to just throw your hands up in the air in despair and do nothing, but in today’s social media climate, that will do more harm than good. There’s websites, message boards and other review based platforms where a few disgruntled employees can ruin a reputation. What should you do about it? The problem with many “employment engagement experts” is that they over-engineer well-meaning concepts of engagement so normal people can’t understand how to implement them efficiently and effectively. They then start to chart your engagement metrics or KPI’s to determine if you’re doing a great job or not in “engagement” and then the numbers start to skew one way over another. Survey’s are fine, but let’s have meaningful conversations and asking employees what we can do better is more valuable. So let’s look at some fundamental steps on how we can enable our employees better:

Success as A Leader – How did you become a leader? Most leaders didn’t just have a Donald Trump family member create a position for them to become a leader. Most people earned it through hard work, determination, failure and guidance (a mentor). Are you that person for people on your team? Think back to the leaders and mentors that helped shape your style and approach. Someone took an active role in your development and had interest in your growth and success. Do you show interest in your employee’s growth and development? Do you push your employees to see their full potential like your leader did for you?

Get to Know Your Employees – Most companies know that information is king. When you sell a product or service to a company, you create notes about the client. Their needs, their wants, their desires and you use that information to sell solutions that will hopefully get them to their desired state. There are billion dollar companies like Salesforce.com which their entire goal is to collect data for these purposes. Are you getting to know your employees? As a leader your employees are your clients. Without malice, engage with them to learn more about what drives them, what they’re passionate about. Your employees spend a large portion of their entire life working with you. Do you remember your employees spouse name and the name of their kids? Do know what their hobbies or leisure activities are? Highly Engaged employees respond better to the question “My supervisor cares about me as a person” than disengaged clients. Don’t be too shy to take notes about your staff. Build your CRM platform for your employees and figure out what motivates them, so you can do your job more effectively and efficiently.

Develop Your People – Is your company feeling like a rotating door for employees? Are they going through your training department and burning out quickly once they are out in the trenches? Developing your people is important to the success of any manager or business. There’s a quote that floats around LinkedIn often that says “What if you develop your people and they leave?” The response back is “What if we don’t develop our people and they stay?” There is constant growth that needs to take place. We live in a world of constant change. New Products, new services, innovative ways to do your job better is constantly changing and you need to make sure your company and employees are able to adapt to the change. Developing them is key. When employees know and understand how their development links to your company’s goals, they feel more connected to that organization. Make them feel involved. Employees who grow and develop their skills are more likely to stay with a company and recommend their company to others. This helps the overall company build the talent and teams needed to be successful in today’s marketplace.

New Employee Contact – Whether you’re hiring for a new employee working in an office or in your office from home, it’s important to make sure they get to know the whole team. It’s important to build the bonds early and surround them with people who are engaged at work.  Most new employees get to know their bosses and direct reports pretty well, but it’s important for those new hires to see cross line staff. One great example I found was UserVoice. Every time someone joins their company, they invite the whole staff to a game night. The company offers free food and drinks and promotes unity. It gives people who may never be in the same meeting room or conference call the ability to interact as human beings instead of a number on a spreadsheet or ranking report. When a company hires someone remotely, having a Skype call could prove to be an effective way to introduce the team. If you want a new employee to embrace your culture, values and work ethic, you need to give them a warm welcome to it.

Recognize Your Employees – Recognition is a motivator for many employees. It promotes positive behavior and long term results. It doesn’t always have to be monetarily or with awards incentives. As a matter of fact, if your employees are already disgruntled, throwing too many perks at them might only create a culture of entitlement. When is the last time that you have just said a sincere “thank you” or “job well done” to your staff that wasn’t in just a quick email? When was the last time you sent them a hand written letter thanking them for their service or called them on the telephone to thank them for their hard work? Recognition should be simple and easy and often. Take a walk in your employee’s shoes. Would you be enthusiastic about working for yourself? Different generations can also view or value recognition in different ways. Do you recognize a baby boomer the same way you would recognize a millennial? If so, research shows that may not be the best method. Do you know how your employees like to be recognized?

Focus on Strengths Over Weaknesses – When you’re a leader, it’s easy to just tell an employee to try this approach or that approach on the next call or project. Gallup researchers have studied human behavior for many years. They’ve concluded building an employee’s strengths is a far more effective approach than focusing on a weakness. A Strength-based culture was shown to have employees learn their roles more quickly, produce more and significantly better work, stay with the company longer, and be more engaged.  The most powerful thing any manager can do is allow their employees to be placed in jobs which uses their natural talents to shine and be successful.

Lateral Movement – Have an employee that has been engaged and has been a top performer for years and then all of a sudden becomes disengaged? Maybe it’s been someone that has worked for the company for 10-15 years and suddenly leave? Most individuals leave when they have issues with direct report leadership or they no longer feel challenged within the role they currently occupy. Leaders need to let go and guide their employees to mature within new and expansive roles within the organization if at all possible. Sometimes a lateral move to another part of the organization might be what is needed to reengage that employee to their normal top performing self.

Use Glassdoor to Your Advantage – Glassdoor has the ability to see a raw source of employee feedback that could prove to be incredibly useful. It can be rough, at times to see what your current or former employees are saying about your company, but it’s an important tool (if you’re brave enough) to see what you are successful in and where your areas of opportunity are as a company. As you sort through the data, you should start to see patterns of what your employees are saying about your organization and lights should turn on where the improvement can be started.

Reverse Career Fair – This actually showed up on my LinkedIn feed a couple of days ago and I explored the idea of this. It’s quite amazing. Each summer the company AMWAY offers an award winning internship program. One of their highlights is “Intern Week” where Amway Interns from around the United States and Korea visit World Headquarters to network, share results of their projects and enjoy a little fun. They have the opportunity to network with not only their fellow interns but with executives within the organization. This time is precious to not only extend your personal brand with executives, but to also share ideas that can help the company grow. When is the last time a business executive took time to listen to the people on the street or on the front lines in your company? What would that do to morale and innovation in the company to see that a new hire, intern or seasoned veteran in the company had an idea that the company adopted to grow their bottom line or streamlined a process? Do you think that employee or team might be rejuvenated for success?

It’s important to realize that high-performing or high-potential employees have other opportunities through recruiters or job hunting themselves. Another picture passed around LinkedIn was a picture of Mark Zuckerberg talking about how you should treat your employees right so they won’t use your internet to search for a new job. The fundamental building block for hiring employees are to find driven hard working people where you can develop them to be a success. The keyword is people. They are people. Humans. Who have feelings, goals, aspirations and dreams. Many people hired have dreams to eventually take the position that you hold and beyond. How can you harness this for the companies advantage? What type of system do you have in order to develop them to do so? How rewarding do you think it was to see your mentor or leader see your success?  Some of the most successful companies in the marketplace figure out that it’s the people that make the business move. Many companies say that, but few actually demonstrate this on an everyday basis. Be a company that implements change in your employees.

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