This article ‘Want The Secret To Employee Engagement?’ originally appeared in HR Zone
According to research from employee engagement technology firm Purple Cubed, 86% of top senior executives do not believe their organisation has a robust engagement strategy.
However, I think the most important that this survey has highlighted is just how many different definitions people have for ‘engagement’. When survey respondents were asked to define what employee engagement meant to them, the most common description of engagement offered by respondents in the survey was ‘employees being able to thrive’ (17%), followed by ‘if employees are engaged customers will be too’ (15%).
Other answers included ‘it’s about staff enjoying coming to work’ (12%) and ‘engagement is a core strategy’ (12%). However, 2% of respondents regarded engagement as ‘fluffy HR speak’ or ‘a fad’. Oh dear! Where do we start?!
I can appreciate that some people may struggle to really define engagement, but for me, to be engaged at work people need to feel connected – to their role, their colleagues, their manager, the organisation and their goals.
Employee engagement goes beyond job satisfaction – it’s an employee’s willingness to invest their own discretionary effort in the success of the organisation.
It’s not simply motivation. It’s something the employee has to offer and wants to offer – it can’t be ‘required’ as part of the employee contract. Does that make sense?
How to create employees that want to ‘go the extra mile’
1. The 3:1 Rule
Your people want to know that their efforts are noticed, valued and appreciated. Practise the 3:1 rule. Look to praise your people 3 times more than you criticise them. Remember the things that get rewarded get repeated.
Shift your approach to catching your people doing things right, rather than catching the doing things wrong.
“Employees who report receiving recognition and praise within the last seven days show increased productivity, get higher scores from customers and have better safety records. They’re just more engaged at work.” Tom Rath.
COMMUNICATION – the 13 letter that trip up so many managers.
As a boss your job is all about communication. Your people want and need to know what’s going on, what’s ahead and what’s new. Communicate regularly and openly – even if there’s nothing to say – then simply communicate this.
Communicate face-to-face as much as possible. Don’t hide behind impersonal emails or notice boards. Get out there and speak with your people in their world. And remember – effective communication is two-way. It’s just as vital to ask and listen.
“The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.” Sydney J Harris.
3. Get specific
Be specific and precise. Set crystal clear goals and expectations with all your people.
Focus on these two critical aspects of their work:
- Areas of responsibility = what exactly I need you to do?
- The performance standards – what good looks like?
- Many managers fail to get the best from their people because they fail to be specific about what they want and expect.
“I always wanted to be somebody but now I realise I should have been more specific.” Lily Tomlin.
Notice your own behaviour and check for the following:-
- Acknowledging – This could be anything from a simple “Good morning” when you encounter your people early in the day, to “How’s it going?” when you walk by someone to “Have a great weekend” on a Friday.
- Paying Attention – Do you really know what your people are working on? What are they up against? What resources or support do they need from you? What do they want more/less of from you?
- Respecting – This can take many forms, from respecting someone’s time or their space, to respecting a person’s skills and expertise.
“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.” Lao Tzu.
5. Make It Easier
The biggest reason people disengage at work is not being given the resources, tools and support they need to do their best work. So get out there – talk and listen to your team.
Find out what will help them to do a better job and then do everything you can to get it for them. Communication is your most essential tool, supporting your team’s work is your highest priority. The ultimate secret to employee engagement is connecting with your people.
Make a connection. That’s it. That’s all it takes. Do that and you will instantly make a BIG difference!
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Henry Ford.