4 Steps to Engaging Employees

By: Eric Heckerson, EdD, RN

Of course it’s nice to work with coworkers who are committed to their organizations. But, is it necessary? As a manager, should you be concerned in how engaged your employees are if they seem to be doing their jobs?

Studies show a resounding “yes.” Leaders at high-performing organizations realize engaged employees, those who have consistently productive energy, are enthusiastic and committed to their workplace, and are involved at work, perform at a consistently higher level than those who don’t. They’re absent from work less, have decreased stress levels (and negative energy) and are willing to go above and beyond their job description to enhance their organization.

Yet, statistics show as much of 70% of American workers are uninterested in their work or company, and are frequently unhappy. While this would point to status-quo it staggering to note there’s an approximate $400 billion lost in productivity each year due to employee disengagement.

It seems despite understanding the importance of having engaged employees, there is ample room for improvement.

4 steps to engaging employees

While there’s no secret formula or one-size solution for addressing the problem of a disengaged workforce, there are four strong tactics leaders can implement.

Step 1: Hire the right people. Hiring managers should seek individuals with behaviors and traits that match the company’s established culture. High-performing leaders incorporate a peer interviewing process along with behavior-based interview questions. This ensures the new hire feels like, “they fit right in” from the start.

Step 2: Focus on building the strengths of individual team members. Oftentimes, leaders believe their role is to correct and strengthen a weakness, but employees are happiest when they’re encouraged to further develop their strongest skills. Their engagement increases dramatically when encouraged and relied upon to do something they’re good at.

Step 3: Communicate frequently to team members to build a strong, trusting relationship over time and support them along their career path. Communicate as a group in meetings, in written form, by email, and most importantly, take time to meet with each staff member regularly for one-on-time time to build a trusting relationship.

Step 4: Motivate employees consistently. Discover what gets your employees to act in a certain way. It’s often thought that financial rewards motivate people the most. However, studies suggest autonomy in work, mastery and pride in their craft, and being connected to an overall purpose are the top three motivating factors. The more motivated the individual, the more engaged they are.

Successful leaders engage their employees.

One of the toughest challenges leaders face is understanding how to keep their workforce engaged. They start by hiring the right people, then continually build upon and recognize their strengths through coaching. They are sure to communicate frequently with their teams, work to uncover what truly motivates them and then provide it for them.

Having this awareness of how to bring out the best in people and increase engagement beyond mere satisfaction in work are invaluable tools for leaders to use as they manage teams towards a common goal. Those who follow these steps significantly improve retention, performance and overall the bottom line of the company.

References
Cengia, G. (2012). Employee engagement. Ceramic Industry, 21-23.
Gallup (2015). State of the American Workforce Report. Retrieved from gallup.com.
Kelleher, B. (2011). Engaged employees = High-performing organizations. Financial Executives
Kruse, T. (2016). Employee Engagement 2.0. Richboro: Kruse Group.
Mindtools (2013). How Good are Your Motivation Skills? Retrieved from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMM_67.htm
Murray, E. & Rusignuolo, R. (2010). Rewarding outstanding performance: Don’t break the bank. Franchising World, 80-81.
Rath, T. (2007). Strengths finder 2.0. New York: Gallup Press International, 51-53.
Saks, A.M. & Gruman, J.A. (2014). What do we really know about employee engagement? Human Resource Quarterly,  (23) 2.