Use these top 10 tips to plan your Employee Engagement strategy
1. Relationships matter
Engagement surveys repeatedly show that the key factor in employee engagement is the employee’s relationship with their direct manager or supervisor (they leave bad managers – even in tough economic times). But beware although employees don’t leave organisation’s directly they do leave organisations who allow bad managers to thrive. Engaged employees are 80% less likely to leave and perform 20% better (HR Magazine). Becoming an expert in relationship building and maintenance is what great managers do best over time.
What effective relationship-focussed managers do best:
- Coach to success. Coaching helps employees to become more effective in their roles both strategically, culturally and perform better. Employee performance coaching dries and sustains employee engagement.
- Align employee goals with strategic business outcomes. Great managers align each employee’s professional development and learning goals to those of the team and the organisation as a whole.
Employees that work towards their own goals (in alignment with the organisation’s goals) are more engaged when they come to work each day. Alignment also helps employees understand how their work impacts business overall.
2. Live your values
The core values of your organisation should be able to help create a work environment that enables active employee engagement, and that creates opportunities for them to demonstrate these values in their daily work. In high performance teams employees and leaders use their core values as a compass and positive funnel for work behaviours and choices. Highly engaged employees thrive on being treated fairly, transparently and honestly.
Can you list your organisation’s core values and behaviours now?
3. Recognise behaviour and progress regularly (and reward appropriately)
Organisational science is showing us that employee recognition helps build and maintain healthy employee/manager relationships, and that the employee manager relationship substantially impacts organisational bottom-line performance. According to a Towers Watson Study organisations who actively recognise employees at least a 5% higher net profit than companies that don’t. Effective employee recognition is all about appropriately rewarding the right behaviours which lead to the right strategic results.
- How we act matters. Getting the desired result by taking short cuts, through lies and manipulation has a short term benefit but will break your culture and embed the wrong thins and lead to the wrong results – over time.
- When we act matters. The best time to provided recognition is when the employee is behaving the the desired way or completing a specific agreed performance goal. Those who receive feedback at least once a week are at least 2x as engaged as those who receive it less frequently.
4. Recognise their humanity
As human beings we want to feel valued, inspired and empowered. These emotions are difficult if we don’t see each other as human beings. Engaged employees feel that their managers really know them and care about them as individuals. Effective managers link personal goals to organisational goals as they understand what drives their team to succeed. Aligning individual goals and organisational goals through shared values and behaviours is a key distinctions between inspirational leadership and management.
Do you know:
- What your employees are passionate about?
- What in their lives they value most (friends, family, learning, pets, etc)?
- What they aspire to be and achieve in their career and life?
What steps do you take to acknowledge, validate and coach employees to help them achieve these personal goals?
5. Genuinely care
The bottom line is that healthier, happier employees are more productive and bring their energy and creativity to work. This directly translates into increased employee engagement and performance. Caring initiatives offer everything from personal money management to professional counselling with relationship, parenting and stress management experts. They may also include flexitime planning and work from home options helping create a work life balance in an ever increasing world of stress and responsibility. Caring about employees as part of your team (family) and helping the deal with non-work factors that impact their performance can help them become more productive and increase levels of connection and loyalty. We are human beings first and employees second. We cannot alway divorce our non-work lives from our work lives. Caring is about the whole human being.
6. Make a difference as an organisation
Many employees (especially generation x and y) have a need to know that what they do is making a positive difference in the world, and to their fellow human beings. High performance organisations often facilitate ways for employees to give back to the community (as a function of their work). This may include running employee driven community assistance, volunteering and green-planet programs. The most impactful of these programs allow employees (individually and as teams) to define the why, the how and the when they give back. The organisation offers support and may provide tools and recognition for these co-created community giving goals.
7. Build supportive human structures and processes
Automated systems make running the process easier but fly in the face of building a human team, and may end up reducing the effectiveness of any employee engagement programme. Using SMART goals can be effective in aligning personal goals with strategic goals. Help employees understand how their behaviours align with performance goals. Excellent strategic communication helps with the cascading effect as senior leadership identify the strategic business objectives for the organisation, these are then shared with managers who then then take these objectives and create more focused goals for their teams. The employees then, in partnership with their managers, establish their individual goals. Human-centric performance management programmes are crucial to facilitating this process.
Help employees establish personal goals by using the using the SMART methodology:
- Specific: Goals are objective, clearly stated and very specific.
- Measurable: The goal’s progress is measurable in terms of easily shared quantity, quality and time measures.
- Attainable: Goals need to be realistic. High performing organisations reward goals achieved that are within the control of employee or team member.
- Relevant: Goals need to be clearly linked to positive and meaningful business organisational outcomes.
- Timeous: When will the particular task, project or goal be completed?
Key questions here include:
- To what extend is this goal creating value?
- What behaviour is required in line with organisational values and behaviour?
- How does it impact internal and external customers (costs, quality, service, productivity)?
8. Give employees a voice
Less than 1/3rd of employees feel they are involved in the important decisions made in their organisations, despite the fact that research shows clearly that increased employee involvement leads to increased employee engagement. Employees are more likely to buy-in to change and take ownership of goals when they play a role in creating them vs. when they feel they are just executing someone else’s vision. Additionally more innovative ideas potentially come from those who are face-to-face with the customer or product (when they have a voice).
9. Help them feel like they belong
Do the members of your organisation feel like they are part of a team, or part of a silo that competes with other silos? Operating as a high-performing team requires communication, collaboration and interaction with each other to meet goals and objectives. Effective team leaders help build trust in their teams so that each employee can work with colleagues, share work and can reduce conflict. Collaboration is more effective when we understand each other’s personalities and can learn to value each other’s opinions.
10. Hire on values and leadership skills first
It is easier to hire for leadership potential and value fit than to hire for talent and then try train leadership skills and values. When individual values align with the organisation’s core values motivation is substantially easier than when people have the right skills but the wrong motivation and behaviours. Low-engagement organisations tend to hire managers primarily based on their work skills rather than their demonstrated capacity for leadership effectiveness. These are the organisation’s who are most likely to shed top talent due to manager people skill issues. Managing people is a skill in itself, and should be taken into account along with technical skills. It is hard to manage behaviour and align employee goals to organisational goals when you cannot share the organisation’s core values, or why each value is most critical in achieving strategic goals.
How will you align the core values of your your organisation with your Employee Engagement strategy?
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