In far too many organizations, leaders hold the view that employee engagement is an HR survey activity they must bear once every year or two. While engagement surveys can be a good measurement tool, what really creates and drives engagement in a workplace are its leaders.
According to Gallup engaged employees are those who are involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace. Organizations invest a lot of resources such as time and money to increase employees’ engagement at work. However, research have shown that over the years there has been little to no improvement in engagement scores, in fact, engagement levels is seemingly on a slow decline. According to Gallup’s latest global research, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged on the job. The solutions to help address the issue of low engagement in organizations will vary as people issues are unique to each organization. However, converting employees from disengaged to engaged workers should be a top priority for all organizations as this can effectively increase performance and lead to sustainable long-term growth.
For this transformation to happen i.e. to get workers really committed to their jobs and the workplace, really starts with the efforts of supervisors and managers. Managers play an important role in employee engagement as they have the most direct influence to employees. Staff motivation, satisfaction and effectiveness are some of the main responsibilities of a manager and if not taken seriously can be very damaging.
Employee engagement is not a one off event. It is an ongoing journey which has the ability to achieve high impact at both levels- individual and organizational.
Here are five (5) specific actions which managers can take to maximize team engagement:
- Model the Way
As a manager you have a responsibility to lead. Managers need to ensure that they lead from the front and exemplify the behaviors and attitudes which they require employees to demonstrate on the job. Asking an employee to be at work on time while you breeze in an hour late does not in any way demonstrate good leadership skills or show the way with encouragement. Such actions will in fact, diminish your ability as a manager to effectively influence and keep your team motivated.
- Clarify Expectations and set SMART goals
Meet with each team member and jointly set goals. Ensure that team members clearly understand what is expected of them and what will be required of them to successfully meet their targets and achieve their annual goals. An employee can become much disengaged when they are not sure what is expected from them and what they need to do to get the job done. Furthermore, if for any reason goals are changed during the course of the performance period (as they sometime do), this should be immediately communicated and the way forward mutually agreed.
- Consistent Communication
Communication is the foundation of an engaged workforce. It is important to ensure that information is fluid and consistently shared from the top to the bottom and vice versa to reduce the obscurity of messages and elimination of inaccuracies which are typical elements of the corporate grapevine. Effective communication also ensures that employees have a good understanding of what the business goals and objectives are as well as their place in achieving it.
- Leverage employee strengths
One of the most powerful sources of job satisfaction comes from being able to maximize your talents, knowledge, and skills in your job. When employees are able to apply their strengths and leverage their expertise, they are more than twice as likely to be more engaged on the job. Ensuring that employees are also aligned to jobs which allow them to grow and develop their strong areas are definitely engagement boosters.
- Provide adequate training and learning opportunities
Learning and development is a key driver of employee engagement. By dedicating time and resources to employee learning and development; managers are not only growing and improving employee skills but preparing employees for future opportunities which appeals to their drive for career advancement and will help fosters employee engagement.