It’s no big surprise that employee engagement is critical to the productivity and long-term success of your business. What might be shocking though is how often engagement is overlooked even by those organizations committed to fostering a positive company culture.
Culture and engagement are not synonymous. Culture is an environment of shared values, goals, and behaviors that distinguish an organization and sets the bar for how things get done. Engagement refers to the level of employee activity and commitment to their work and the success of the organization as a whole. While these definitions may feel like semantics, the distinction is important. Business leadership can talk mission and values until the cows come home, but a culture devoid of engagement is destined to fall flat.
Unlike culture, engagement is quantifiable. By identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) surrounding engagement, leadership has an insightful yardstick to measure employee commitment, connection, motivation, and accountability in the workplace. Tracking these engagement KPIs provides a great deal of actionable data that can be leveraged to enhance improvements, productivity and contentedness throughout the business.
Company culture is unique to each organization, but the importance of employee engagement is universal. Engagement breathes life into company culture.
How Do I Know If My Employees Are Engaged?
As mentioned, identifying and measuring engagement KPIs is essential. But what does an engaged employee really look like?
Engaged employees are:
- Prideful in their work.
- Consistently high performers.
- Passionate about customer experience.
- Collaborative problem-solvers willing to help others.
- Accountable and engaged in their performance and professional development.
- Committed to the company’s goals, vison, and mission.
- Positive representatives and brand ambassadors of the organization.
The following are seven ways to create a culture of engagement in your business:
1. Build Trust.
Foster an environment that embraces honesty, mutual respect, and physical and psychological safety. Trust in the workplace positively impacts collaboration, organizational alignment, and achieving goals. Establishing a trusting culture also improves efficiency, engagement and productivity.
According to a Harvard Business Review study, people at high-trust companies report 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, and 76% more engagement.
2. Understand Integrity Is Key.
People with integrity do the right thing even when nobody is watching; organizations with integrity keep their promises to their employees, customers, communities, and other key stakeholders even when it might be easier not to. When a business is challenged with tough decisions, all eyes are locked on leadership’s response and how it aligns with the culture and values the company claims to possess. As a business leader, be sure your moral compass always points north.
3. Encourage Employees To Do What They Do Best.
Employees who are allowed to leverage their personal and professional strengths are more satisfied in their roles, more likely to perform at a high level, and dramatically less likely to quit. Employees’ talents and expertise often fall somewhere beyond their standard job duties. The best way to ascertain these special skillsets is to open up the lines of communication. Ask your employees what they are passionate about and how that could support the business. Find ways to incorporate those talents, then watch them flourish.
4. Make Work More Interesting and Challenging.
When employees are challenged, they feel compelled to achieve at a higher level. Likewise, when bored, employees are less satisfied and more apt to underperform.
Assign your employees more interesting and challenging projects or have them design their own. Create some big, lofty goals they can work on individually or collaboratively and be sure to reward outcomes. Understand that not everyone on the team will step up to additional challenges, but those that do will likely inspire others to do the same.
5. Provide Insightful Feedback.
Providing employees feedback on their performance encourages them to be more engaged and productive. Feedback helps build self-confidence in your employees’ skills and strengths by providing a roadmap for improvements and instilling a sense of value in what they do. Be sure to clarify expectations and make the process a positive one.
Also, ask employees to provide you with their feedback regarding processes, culture or anything else related to the daily operations of your business. You will likely find a great deal of value in their input.
6. Show Appreciation.
Expressing gratitude for the people who work for you can be transformative. Employees who feel valued tend to be more positive, more motivated, and far more engaged. Regularly acknowledge your employees’ inherent value as a person and their unique contributions to the team.
7. Offer Channels for Growth.
Create opportunities for employees’ personal and professional development. Leadership programs and mentorship initiatives are the ultimate quid pro quo for your business and employees. By offering additional training and career development channels, employees broaden their skillsets, are more motivated, and are engaged at a higher, more substantive level.