Employee engagement

It’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? What makes an engaging place to work? How do we design the utopian workplace which maximises employee engagement, and therefore business output?

We’ve finally got on board with the correlation between engaged employees and the delivery of business objectives. Whilst we’re still trying to put our collective fingers on the thorny subject of what actually constitutes an engaged employee, there have been enough studies out there to show that employees demonstrating high levels of engagement (by whichever measure you choose) are the same employees whose output is greatest. It doesn’t therefore take a rocket scientist to conclude that we should be looking to do everything we can to make our organisations as engaging as possible to work within.

Not quite as easy as it sounds

Unfortunately, that’s not quite so easy as it sounds. Why? Well, the first challenge we’re going to face is that people, by their very nature, are all different. What hugely motivates and engages one person might have only minimal effect on another.

Secondly, engagement isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s something which develops over time, and therefore that makes it twice as hard to measure the impact of the initiatives you might choose to implement.

Where to start?

There are however certain things that, when well executed, can pretty much guarantee to up your employee engagement levels. If you’re not sure where to begin when it comes to creating an engaging place to work, here are my suggestions for where to start.

1. Communicate Your Purpose

Tell your organisation what you’re trying to achieve as a business. State it as plainly and as simply as you possibly can, to give everyone the best possible chance of achieving it… and then communicate it, communicate it, and communicate it again.  At risk of stating the obvious here, it’s very difficult for employees to be engaged in their pursuit of your business goals… if they don’t actually know what those goals are.

2. Give People A Reason To Care

People might understand what you want to achieve… but why should they care about helping you to get there? Don’t just tell them what your business goals are, tell them WHY. What will the impact of achieving these goals be? For the business, for the client base, for the greater good, and, perhaps most importantly, for them personally. Never forget the WIIFM: What’s In It For Me? If you spell this out to people, and they really understand the benefits, their impact is likely to be substantially greater as a result.

3. Remove The Obstacles

If your employees are spending all their time having to remove obstacles from the path towards your goals, their progress is going to be severely hampered, and they are more likely to become disengaged as a result. Obstacles are a fact of life, and there’s no way of getting away from them entirely, but as organisational leaders and HR professionals it’s important that we make spotting them early on and looking to intervene our priority. The more obstacles between employees and the goal we’ve tasked them with achieving, the greater risk of the impact on engagement.

4. Prioritise Culture

Culture and engagement go hand in hand. Engaged employees create other engaged employees; similarly, disengaged employees create other disengaged employees. Never make the mistake of thinking of culture as a ‘nice to have’ add on. When you get your culture right, your employees thrive, engagement levels rise, and your ability to achieve those all important goals directly increases as a result.

5. Celebrate Success

Actually achieving your goals is likely to be some way off, so it’s important that you make the journey an enjoyable one to keep your employees enthused and motivated about the direction you’re heading in. Ensuring that you celebrate successes – even small ones – is a great way to do that. Pavlovian conditioning shows us that, when an employee does something great and is rewarded for that achievement, they are immediately driven to want to do more of the same. The same is true for other employees who might share in this celebration – and want to be the one leading the achievements the next time around.

Taken together, the above can be a heady combination for really driving your employee engagement levels up… and hastening your pursuit of those all important business goals.