Seven Secrets to Employee Engagement

Any company that thinks you have to pour money on employees to get them engaged will write off employee engagement efforts during tough economic times.

In fact, you can’t afford NOT to pay attention to engagement, especially when the wind is howling outside. Employee engagement scores regularly account for up to 50 percent of the variance in customer service scores.

A 2006 study by the Gallup Management Journal found that engaged employees make up an average 29 percent of a company’s workforce, leaving a startling 71 percent who are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.”

Engagement comes not from dollars but from more personal factors. Here are seven things that will help your employees stay engaged for the long term:

  1. An employer who cares enough to listen. The best way to know what your employees need and expect is to ask them—and to listen carefully to the answers.
  2. Clear, consistent expectations. Vague policies and unclear expectations can make employees feel irritated, even paranoid. They click into survival mode instead of focusing on how to help the company succeed.
  3. A sense of the importance of their work. This has a greater impact on loyalty and customer service than all other factors COMBINED.
  4. Opportunities for advancement. The chance to work your way up the ladder is a tremendous incentive for productivity, bonding, and engagement.
  5. Good relationships with others in the workplace—especially the supervisor. If that relationship is toxic, you can forget about asking the employee to put his shoulder to the wheel for the company.
  6. Regular feedback. If you want to keep them moving forward, give employees the occasional rudder report. And don’t forget positive feedback, which should ideally outnumber the negative by about 5 to 1.
  7. Celebration and rewards for success. Set realistic targets, then reward and celebrate when they are reached. For every big project, pick landmarks along the way and go nuts when you hit them.

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