1. Start With Hiring and Onboarding
The best place to start engaging is at the very beginning of your relationship with employees. In all reality, engagement starts the second you post a job. Start by giving prospects an honest and detailed picture of what the job and your company look like. As you and your candidates progress throughout the recruiting and hiring cycle, keep them engaged with timely communication. This can be as simply as sending a quick email keeping them abreast of what the timeframe on hearing back from you will be like. Let this pave the way for engagement down the road.
When it comes to onboarding, make an effort to immediately connect new hires with the company. Don’t just send them off to figure things out on their own! Make an effort to make new employees feel comfortable and secure by providing relevant trainings and allowing ample time for questions. Have key managers and your CEO make appearances at orientation as well to help foster this environment. It is much easier to engage when you feel like people at your new company are looking out for you.
2. Communicate Clearly and Confidently from the Top
According to research by Dale Carnegie, 70 percent of employees who lack confidence in their senior leadership team aren’t fully engaged. With that said, it is imperative that senior leadership makes their workforce feel fully confident in them. In order to instill confidence in your workforce, consider the following steps:
• Clarify and communicate your mission and vision. Help employees understand overall company goals, the plan to achieve them, and how these goals trickle down to each individual team. Employees feel much more confident in leaders when they have a solid plan.
• Provide consistent company-wide updates. Be candid and transparent with these updates. Regular communication in itself helps with employee engagement; research shows that employees with managers who hold regular meetings are almost three times more likely to be engaged.
• Encourage feedback. Emphasize senior leadership’s desire for feedback and give employees a way to actually contribute it (whether it be through public forums like Glassdoor, a Q&A session, or a suggestion box). Engagement happens when employees feel their opinions are heard.
3. Enable Your Employees to Do Their Best Work
Micromanaging can lead to disengagement. Instead of managing in this manner, try displaying confidence in employees to make their own decisions and lead when the occasion arises. Engaged employees feel responsible to their managers and leaders; by offering employees power and autonomy, you can create this sense of responsibility. Start simply by finding ways that employees across the entire company can feel a sense of independence. This could range from allowing employees to make their own hours to letting employees help in setting their quarterly goals.
4. Encourage Strong Relationships Among Coworkers
We spend at least 40 hours a week at work. It is a major part of our lives, so cultivating strong relationships at work is vital. Research even backs this up - friendships at work increase employee satisfaction by 50 percent. And people with a work bestie are 7 times more likely to be completely engaged. Given this, your company should actively invest in and try to encourage these friendships. Try a lunchtime yoga class, a company happy hour, or individual team outings. Once these relationships have grown in a way that doesn’t surround work, they can easily continue to develop in the office environment. Take note of how they benefit the work environment.
5. Recognize Employees for Desired Behaviors and Outcomes
Rewards and recognition can help get employees engaged and then keep them engaged. Feeling unrecognized when you are working your butt off is a powerful reason to disengage. Be sure to pay attention to what and how your employees are doing, then reward them accordingly. Consider the accomplishment, and reward employees fittingly. Sometimes, just a high five and a “good job” is enough. Other times, you might need to look towards something of monetary value, ranging from a lunch out to a bonus or raise. Whatever the reward is, be sure to emphasize the behavior you want to reinforce to keep the engagement moving forward.
6. Measure Your Efforts
You rely on data to make most of your business decisions, and employee engagement shouldn’t be any different. Track your employee engagement initiatives from the beginning. You can use this data down the road to determine what is working, what isn’t, and how to adjust to get back on course. Luckily, many indicators of employee engagement are already tracked by HR, making your time investment very minimal. Three key indicators include:
Begin tracking these at the start of your initiatives as a benchmark, then every three months moving forward. Use these numbers to quantify your efforts and learn where you can improve. These metrics are also a great way to get buy-in from key leadership to expand your efforts as needed.
Getting your workforce engaged might seeming daunting. However, by taking just a few steps, you can see a great reward to your company. It will take time, but by starting small, you will gain momentum and be on your way to a more engaged workforce.