According to a recent poll, ONLY 34% of the U.S. workforce feel that they are engaged in their work. Keeping your team motivated is one of the toughest challenges that any leader faces, so we interviewed a few successful business owners to learn how they energize their employees.
Imagine if you could improve your employees’ outlook on work by even just 10% how much that could impact their overall productivity. While it is hard to quantify the overall impact that this could have on your business, it is clear that disengaged workers are a massive area of untapped potential. After speaking with four business leaders, we gathered our notes and put together the nine best ways they have found to create employee engagement.
1 - Encourage A Culture Of Feedback
If the workers feel that you listen to their opinions, you can create a better rapport with them and make them feel more valued in the process. You will also inspire a sense of collective ownership within the company, which translates into a better team dynamic. Many businesses make the mistake of implementing changes without consulting employees, and only asking for feedback once changes have been implemented.
When it comes to decisions that can directly affect them such as work schedules, the tools you use, and their work environment, it is good idea to present ideas ahead of time and get feedback from your people. This should all be done in a constructive manner, as your goal is to encourage positivity and workplace synergy.
2 - Recognize The “Thinking” Differences In Each Employee
Every individual has a unique way of processing information and data. Some prefer a lively area with opportunities for interaction while others need a quiet environment for their best thinking. These differences can actually be beneficial to your company if you can design your environment and policies to accommodate them. Examples of this could be providing one area of the office where employees can think quietly, one area for low volume collaboration and another for team meetings. Learn more about different strategies for this here.
3 - Maintain Healthy Accountability
This is a tough one but can be a real game changer. Many times employees can fall into a preservationist mindset where any mishap is often quickly blamed on others.
By clearly defining responsibilities and supporting your employees to succeed you can circumvent this negative framing. This style of management also allows them to take ownership of their wins further fueling their engagement.
In this kind of positive environment mistakes can be viewed as just a step on the way to success. Productivity also increases as the paralyzing fearing of missteps subsides. Maintaining healthy accountability can instill pride in employees and be very constructive.
4 - Expose Them Different Parts Of The Business
Allow opportunities for your employees to see how each part of the company works. This can increase their understanding and appreciation of the team effort that is going on. For example, pick a morning where the marketing staff takes a tour of the production process — or the operations team sits in on a marketing meeting. One great example that was shared with us was how one company had their top executives ride in their delivery trucks! The drivers provided real world insights about the company's logistics and together, they solved a supply chain issue that really helped the bottom line.
The more interconnected your organization is, the better you can utilize your team's skills and the closer your team will feel. This resulting camaraderie can be a powerful motivator and create unexpected synergies. Plus, from a leadership perspective, you may see your company in new ways.
5 - Encourage Self-Care
Boosting your employees self-care can definitely have a positive effect on performance and has been proven to reduce overall absences. Remind your team about the importance of having a healthy work-life balance as well as getting good sleep and exercise.
In the office, there are many creative ways to implement self-care including stretching breaks, push-up contests, or even vacation-themed parties like a Hawaiian Luau.
Meditation has also been shown to reduce stress, improve performance and reenergize employees.
6 - Add Experiential Benefits
Having great benefits that enhance the day-to-day work life can make a big difference to your team. This can include small things like adding free coffee and snacks, to big benefits like taking your team on outings or trips. We talked to one business owner who recently took his team of 50 people on a train up to Winter Park, one of Colorado's beautiful ski destinations. He commented, "experiences really help bond a team and we are a community of friends that can accomplish anything." Turning your company from a culture to a true community will make your people want to come to work and go the extra mile.
7 - Give Them The Right Tools
It may seem obvious but providing the right equipment (i.e. computers, software, desks, etc.) can make a big difference to morale in the workplace. Quality tools can also directly improve productivity so leverage the best technology to enable success for your team.
In addition, training is also a worthwhile investment in your employees and shows encouragement and your confidence in their potential. Leadership trainings can also inspire them towards future improvement. Plus their efficiency will also increase, which will directly benefit your business.
8 - Give Positive Reinforcement
Giving compliments and recognition is scientifically proven to improve behavior and reduce negativity. So be generous with your praise and even spread it to those that are struggling at every opportunity. In these cases recognition can sometimes be an even more powerful motivator than money.
9 – Lead By Example
Senior and C-class staff (CEO, CFO, CTO etc.) should be role models that interact positively with employees. It can be discouraging for employees to feel completely separate from the leadership of the company.
The most productive organizations have a sense of common purpose and shared belief in the company's ethos. This comes from the top with positive role models that inspire the team to achieve and be more committed to the overall team’s goals.
Also, happy employees get more done — so have fun with your team!
Whatever ways you choose to implement positive change in your workplace, keep in mind that leaders who take care of their employees also enjoy a boost of morale and loyalty — no matter the industry.