Thanks to one upcoming holiday, this time of year is often dominated by talk of love. While this talk usually centers on romantic relationships, there is a professional relationship that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves—that between an employer and their employees. In the business world, having employees who love your company and love what they do can mean all the difference for a healthy, long-term relationship that results in business success.
However, just like with any relationship, ensuring your employees’ lasting happiness takes work. If key employees are starting to develop a wandering eye for other companies, these tips for employee engagement may help bring that spark back to the workplace.
It’s not necessary to get down on one knee or pull out a diamond ring but engaging with employees does require a commitment. An engaged employee is one who cares about the business—who doesn’t show up just to collect a paycheck but genuinely feels like they are part of the company’s success. An engaged employee feels valued and is emotionally involved with the work they do. This is a person who genuinely loves their job and the people they work with. For this employee, leaving the company would be a tough decision that would require a very compelling reason.
If you want your employees to give you their all—and do so for a long time—it is helpful to engage them at every turn. The rest of the tips, below, all contribute to cultivating employee engagement.
Communication is key to successful relationships and the one with your employees is no exception. In order for your employees to feel like they have a stake in your business, you and they should be on the same page. This means taking the time and effort to share with them any information that you are at liberty to share. This goes for both good news and bad news. Most of the time it is better to be transparent and upfront with information that will impact your team. While you may not be at liberty to discuss financial troubles, compliance issues, personnel problems, confidential items or legal snafus, try to make sure your employees are as knowledgeable as possible about your business, especially when it could potentially affect them.
Additionally, open and honest communication builds trust. And trust, of course, is also vital to a healthy relationship.
Just like your other relationships, the one with your team is also a two-way street. It’s easy for companies to talk at their employees. This is especially true as they grow and add additional staff. However, companies can start scaling early-on for a culture of employee engagement by doing one thing so few employers take the time to do: listen.
Listen to your employees. Ask them about themselves, their goals, their thoughts and their feelings. Talk to them about their point of view on the company as a whole and their role in it. What would they like in their career that you aren’t currently providing? What can you do to increase their happiness? What do they think about the current state of things? Ask them open-ended questions and then stop talking so they can share. A few ways you can implement this level of engagement into your current managerial duties:
An engaged culture includes one with an open-door policy. It helps to let your employees know that you are accessible, no matter their role in your organization. A company’s human capital is its most important—and usually most costly—asset. Treat them as such. If an employee feels like they are not worth the company’s time, the company can quickly become not worth their time as well.
Employees are people first and employees second. What this means is that, even though managers may know their team primarily as colleagues whom they work with on a daily basis, they don’t solely exist for the business. Most people want to be honored and respected for all the roles they play, as individuals, parents, spouses, friends, volunteers and, yes, as employees too.
Engaged employees know their employer is there as a resource to help them achieve their individual career ambitions. However, employees love an employer who understands that sometimes higher aspirations or bigger priorities may take them away from the business. Part of a healthy relationship is understanding when the other person needs to focus on something outside of the company. Formal ways employers can show they care include:
While these methods of caring for employees are vital to scalable growth, it is also important to remember some basic practices that go a long way in all relationships. These include greeting employees warmly, praising them for a job well done, publicly celebrating their milestones (such as promotions or service anniversaries) and allowing them the freedom to challenge themselves in their job.
Last, but certainly not least, is the good old-fashioned “thank you.” Make it a point to genuinely thank employees for their work at the end of every conversation you have with them. It’s amazing how a little appreciation can go a long way.
Genuinely caring about employees as human beings can make them even better contributors to the company and give them a reason to stick around when the allure of another company starts to tempt them.
This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.
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