There is plenty of research showing that employees who are engaged—meaning motivated, happy and committed to the organization—are more productive and contribute to a healthier workplace.
In fact companies with the highest levels of engagement outperform those with the least in terms of productivity (21%) and profitability (22 %), according to the Gallup Organization.
Strong employee engagement has other benefits. Gallup found that highly engaged organizations have double the success rate of lower engaged companies. They also have lower absenteeism and turnover, fewer safety incidents and fewer quality problems with their products. Engaged employees are team players, they want to do their best both for themselves and for the organization.
So how do you improve employee engagement?
A report by the management consultancy McKinsey said that for people with satisfactory salaries non-financial motivators are more effective than extra cash in building long-term employee engagement in most sectors, job functions and business contexts. McKinsey’s survey found that nonfinancial incentives like praise from managers are more effective motivators than cash or stock. Peter Stark, a management consultant and author of Engaged! How Leaders Build Organizations Where Employees Love To Come To Work, has said engagement is a state in which “employees are connected both at the head and the heart.” Recognition for a job well done is a key ingredient for that.
- Ask for input and ideas.
Regularly ask your employees for input and ideas about specific projects, accomplishing department goals, improving efficiency and serving customers. Your employees will know that their opinions are important and you will have a clearer picture of the department’s—and the team’s– strengths and weaknesses. When you ask your employees what they think you also build loyalty and trust.
- Find opportunities for them to lead.
Employees want to feel valued and challenged, so look for opportunities to expand their roles on projects or within teams, giving your best people the chance to lead, even if it’s one aspect of a project and just for a short time. Every time you give an employee more responsibility it shows everyone that you notice those who are engaged and working hard and reward it.
- Make sure they understand how they fit into the company’s mission.
A recent Gallup poll found that as employees begin to view their contribution to an organization more broadly, they are more likely to stay, be more productive and connect with customers—all to benefit of the company. As a manager, you can create greater engagement by making sure employees understand how what they do everyday helps to further the organization’s mission and purpose.
- Ask them for feedback on your performance.
It’s not always easy for a boss to ask employees for feedback but it shows you care about and respect their opinion. Let your employees know your goal is to keep improving and to do that, you need to know what else you could do to make their jobs easier and make them more successful.