27 Dec Six Ways Leaders Can Boost Employee Engagement — And Why It’s Important
Imagine this: You are not sure what is going on, but you notice that your best employee has made some avoidable mistakes on the last two projects. You guess it must be stress related. However, two weeks later, your employee calls to say that he will be running late to work due to an emergency. “That seemed strange, but life happens,” you think to yourself. Over the next three weeks, this employee calls in sick about three times. Then, one morning, he walks into your office and gives you his resignation letter, stating that he has found another job. You are devastated — you did not want your best employee to leave. You wonder what you could have done to prevent it. You noticed the change in his behavior, but you failed to address it.
The story above is an example of what happens when an employee becomes disengaged. Signs of employee engagement include a lowered quality of work or a reduction in performance levels, dropping employee morale, tardiness, absenteeism and high voluntary employee resignations.
Here is another story: Susan, your employee, is always early to work and always at her desk by the time you get into the office. Every Monday, Susan initiates a discussion with you about what plans you have for the week and what you need her to accomplish. Susan is cheerful, kind and collaborative. She always thinks of creative solutions to problems in the workplace. Susan is displaying the qualities of an engaged employee. Employees who are engaged are enthusiastic about their job and committed to achieving successful outcomes for the team and organization. They often go above and beyond to execute job assignments. They often volunteer to lead projects and take great pride in their work.
According to a 2015 Gallup survey, about 32% of American employees were engaged at work. More than 50% were not engaged, and 17.2% were found to be “actively disengaged.” In a 2018 survey, just 15% of employees worldwide were found to be engaged at work.
Engaged employees may become disengaged if their leaders do not recognize their efforts or share the vision of the company and team with them. Employees could also become disengaged if a company goes through frequent reorganizations. This gives employees a sense of uncertainty, and they begin to look outside the company for better opportunities. Alternatively, employees could become disengaged when their compensation is not satisfactory or when they are not offered growth and development opportunities.
Employee disengagement negatively impacts business productivity and revenue. Conversely, high employee engagement can increase employee productivity, business revenue and company image.
So, what can leaders do to avoid disengagement from happening and how can leaders improve employee engagement?
1. Leaders should share the vision, goal and strategy of the company with employees and involve employees in decision-making on issues that affect their work. Leaders can do this by collaborating with the human resources team to organize town hall sessions annually or quarterly. Further, supervisors could also share the strategic and operational objectives with their team in weekly or monthly meetings. Sharing the vision, goals and strategy of the company with employees enables them to easily understand how their job directly affects the company’s goals.
2. Leaders should discuss each employee’s job description and how it ties to the business goals. This discussion should happen when new employees join the company and as part of a performance appraisal discussion. This will help employees know the expectations of their supervisor and the company.
3. Employee performance should be evaluated regularly. Employees’ area of strengths should be recognized and leveraged. However, employees’ area of improvement needs to be identified and appropriate training and development plans should be made. Organizations should have periodic performance appraisal periods yearly, in which supervisors are encouraged to discuss employee’s performance and career goals. When an employee is trained to improve their knowledge and performance, they become more engaged and productive.
4. Exemplary employee performance should be recognized, appreciated and rewarded with an incentive. When employees are appreciated for their work, they are more productive and committed to their work. Employees could be recognized by a simple “thank you,” public/team recognition or a bonus.
5. Leaders should have an open-door policy, and every employee should be encouraged to speak up about their questions or concerns. When employees feel that their opinions are heard and valued, they feel more comfortable in the team and can contribute more valuable solutions to business challenges.
6. Leaders should ask for upward feedback so that employees can let them know about their leadership performance. Leaders can proactively ask their employees for feedback during periodic performance appraisal sessions or at weekly team meetings so that required behavioral changes can be made. Some companies also incorporate supervisor assessments in their performance appraisal program. Supervisor assessments can also be utilized for upward feedback.
As you use these recommendations, I believe that your employees will become more engaged and your business productivity will improve.