If you ask most leaders who their most expensive employee is their mind usually goes straight to the person they pay the most. But that’s frequently not true. The most expensive employees in any organization are the ones who are least engaged.
They “earn” their paycheck by doing the absolute least work possible. They provide little return for the investment the organization pays. They also tend to negatively impact the attitude and productivity of their co-workers.
Labor shortages abound these days. Finding and keeping talented people is a top priority for any business hoping to be around in five or ten years. Keeping employees engaged is crucial to the effort to retain them. Engaged employees are more satisfied with their workplace. They are more productive than disengaged employees and they are the best recruiters of new talent that company has.
Here are some strategies that may help you foster employee engagement.
- Establish clear and transparent communication channels. Regularly update your people about organizational goals, achievements, and challenges. Encourage two-way communication. For people to feel engaged they must also feel comfortable providing feedback, asking questions, and sharing ideas.
- Consistently recognize and appreciate your people’s efforts and achievements. Celebrate milestones, acknowledge exceptional performance, and provide constructive feedback. This recognition can be in the form of verbal praise, written appreciation, or rewards such as bonuses, certificates, or additional responsibilities.
- Support your people’s professional growth by offering training programs, workshops, conferences, or access to online courses. Encourage them to develop new skills. Provide opportunities for advancement within the organization. Discuss individual development plans and align them with employees’ career and life goals.
- Promote a healthy work-life balance to avoid burnout and foster overall well-being. Encourage your people to take breaks, use vacation time, and manage their workload effectively. These days implementing flexible work arrangements such as remote work, flexible hours, or compressed workweeks are not “perks” as much as they are requirements…if you what engaged people.
- Encourage teamwork and collaboration by organizing team-building activities, retreats, or social events. Foster a positive work environment where team members feel comfortable interacting with their colleagues and building strong relationships.
- Provide your people with as much autonomy as possible. Give them the freedom to make decisions related to their work. Give them ownership over their projects and encourage them to take initiative and be innovative. This empowers them, boosts their confidence, and increases their sense of belonging.
- Conduct regular performance evaluations to provide constructive feedback on employees’ strengths, areas for improvement, and progress towards goals. Offer ongoing feedback throughout the year to help employees stay on track and continuously improve. Don’t hold on to coaching comments and “dump” them on your people once a year. Coaching should be frequent and as positive as possible.
- Connect your people’s work to the larger purpose and mission of the organization. Communicate how their contributions make a difference and positively impact the organization, customers, or society. When people understand the significance of their work, they feel more engaged and committed.
- Conduct surveys to gather feedback on your people’s engagement levels, satisfaction, and suggestions for improvement. Use this feedback to identify areas of concern and take appropriate action to address them. And for heavens sake, never never ever punish one of your people for their feedback. That’s the surest way to disengage not just the person who was punished but every other person in your organization as well.
Remember, every employee is unique. It’s important to tailor engagement strategies to individual needs and preferences. Regularly assess the effectiveness of your initiatives and be open to adjusting and experimenting with different approaches to keep your people engaged and motivated.