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The Top 3 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement

homerDisconnected, uninterested, bored or undervalued employees don’t hang around, no matter how much wonga you pay them! Salary may make them stay a bit longer but it won’t keep them there to grow with your business, as you’d probably like them to.

Of course, hiring the right people with the right attitudes and potential is the starting point but, as pointed out in a previous post; once hired, you have a responsibility to lead them effectively. You can reduce staff turnover and save a lot of frustration and cost, by increasing employee engagement, which should be a basic aim of any good leader.

How do you do that? Here are the top three ways from my experience:

1. Clarity and Consistency

Leadership needs to operate with these important qualities paramount in everything it does. Without clarity and consistency, employees can become confused and disengaged from a business.

Clarity means communicating not only the day-to-day demands of the business, but also the values and the longer-term vision of the organisation. It is critical not to exclude team members from learning about the overall strategic direction of the company. Inclusion helps team members feel a part of this direction – and you don’t need survey after survey to tell you that feeling a part of something increases engagement, loyalty and all those warm, fuzzy feelings that human beings like to feel.

Consistency is also key – understand what you expect from your team, communicate it and stay true to what you say; lead by example and do what you say you will do, and people will generally respect that and follow your lead.

2. Give them a Voice

This may be the least understood of our three ways to increase engagement. It’s more than a half-yearly review, an annual survey or a suggestion box, which merely pay lip-service to “voice”. It’s the chance to have meaningful input and influence in the business.

If we hire people based upon skills and experience it is more likely that we will be expecting them “merely” to do a good job. Hire people with the right attitude and potential and we know there will be a ramp-up period before they start performing in the job, but they may be more likely to have ideas and outlooks that bring new strategies and innovations to areas of the business. They are often closer to the customer than leadership is, and their view from the “frontline” is important.

Giving employees a “voice” enables them to have their say, creatively or not. It relates to the basic human requirement to be heard. If you don’t believe this is important, then take a look around and see what they do in their spare time: updating their Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or LinkedIn statuses or uploading another video to YouTube…where they have a voice that is heard.

Without this they’ll simply go elsewhere, where they are taken notice of.

3. Recognise Achievements AND Shortcomings

Recognition is about more than awarding Employees of the Month. Yes, public acknowledgement and praise for a job well done and rewarded with a bonus is important; it will help to make your team members feel valued and an important part of your business – and they can share their success with friends and colleagues.

But recognition of areas of personal performance that can be improved will also go a long way. Investing time, especially with young employees, into helping them help themselves, will increase the sense of worth that they get out of the job. Most people respond well to personal development, as they see the changes they make to their working or personal life pay off. They feel that they are part of an organisation that cares about their general wellbeing.

The message should be received loud and clear here. Next time you see the tell-tale signs of employee disengagement or disinterest in your business, ask yourself whether you could be doing more in the areas described above.

It may not be as obvious as yawns at the desk – that’s probably just tiredness from a big night out; if you are sure that you have hired people with the right attitude then it’s time to look at your qualities as a leader and re-engage your team.

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