Successful organizations understand the importance of employee engagement and have figured out how to effectively cultivate their staff to make this a part of their DNA.
Engaged employees are team players, willing to take direction, and passionate about the work they are doing. They feel like they are making a difference or positively impacting their team and company. Employees who do not get this sense of engagement can be a detriment to the company by having a negative impact on their peers and ultimately, customers.
In a study by Gallup Daily, only 31.9% of U.S. workers say that there are engaged in their current roles. (Gallup categorizes “engaged workers” as employees who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work.)
Engagement varies by job role, but the most engaged role in 2015 were managers, with 40.4% stating they were engaged in their position.
So, how do you create an engaged culture?
1. Define Your Company Mission and Vision
Companies with established cultures of employee engagement have a solid foundation with a well-defined mission statement and set of core values. Leadership is responsible for implementing and ensuring employee buy-in. Employees who become attached to the vision and believe they are making a difference stay loyal and committed to the company.
It's important to note that over time, your company will change and evolve. You may experience dramatic growth or reduction in the number of workers you employ, go through a merger or acquisition, have a product line that becomes stale or obsolete, or change how you do business for regulatory reasons. No one can tell the future, with 100% accuracy, but as the saying goes, "change is the only constant."
In the years to come, many things could happen that would force your business change what it does or how it does it. And, as your company evolves, your mission and/or vision may need to evolve, too. When your business experiences change—whether on a large or small scale—make sure you revisit your mission, vision, and values to ensure that they are still relevant and that all your employees still stand behind them.
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2. Always Practice Smart Recruiting
Recruiting for your company should be an everyday activity. You should constantly be looking for the next potential candidate to enhance your team. While experience is important, it’s crucial to find someone who understands the direction of your company, will work to achieve your short- and long-term goals, and will easily make the transition to fit in smoothly.
RELATED READING: Recruit, Retain, Retire: The Employee Lifecycle
3. Show Employees Your Care With Competitive Pay and Benefits
While recruiting the right people to your organization is key, it's important to understand that top talent isn't going to work for you and be loyal to your organization just because you want them to. To attract and retain the best of the best, you have to show them you care by offering competitive compensation and benefits. This shouldn't be used as a stand-alone asset to achieve your ultimate goal of employee engagement, but if your company has the means, it can be used as a great tool in your arsenal.
4. Recruit and Develop Strong Leadership
The engagement of employees is directly tied to their relationship with their supervisor. Like the numbers at the beginning of this post, managers themselves must be engaged in the company, as this trickles down to their employees. They are a driving force and a determining factor in their team’s engagement.
Employees want transparency from their superiors, whether they are a supervisor, an executive, or the company's owner. Employees also look for trust and, often times, excel when given more responsibilities that allow them to contribute to the team and grow professionally.
5. Provide Opportunities for Professional Development
Employees want the opportunity to develop their skill set, regardless the stage of their career. Consider implementing training or certification courses to allow professional growth within their position or the company. Some businesses even develop mentor programs where tenured employees assist in the personal development of the newly hired through coaching and advising.
6. Create a Positive Team Environment
Developing a positive team atmosphere can be tough depending on how large or small a team is, but if achieved, it will not only increase employee engagement, but overall production as well. Strong employee engagement is reliant on how well your employees get along, interact, work together, and participate in team activities. Employees need to feel like they belong to something important or worth working for, like a community or family. And they should also feel safe knowing that everyone else on their team has their back, can pick up the slack, and will offer a helping hand should the going get tough.
7. Recognize and/or Reward a Job Well Done
Successful companies demonstrate their acknowledgement of their employee’s efforts and hard work. This shows the employee that their long hours, early mornings, and extra projects have been recognized and validated. Implementing simple programs like employee of the month/quarter can go a long way.
By implementing the above aspects into your company's culture, an engaging culture will begin to grow. This will have a positive effect on the employee, the customer, and ultimately, the bottom-line.