How to Get Your Employees to be More Engaged at Work

April 30, 2019

A sad fact is the majority of employees are not engaged in their workplace.

According to the State of the American Workplace Report, only 33% of Americans are engaged at work. That’s truly unfortunate for everyone involved, because not only does the unengaged employee negatively impact others around them, but they can also cost the organization big bucks in productivity and profit.

How can leaders fight this drain on resources and actively increase employee engagement? Well, while there’s no guarantee that you can turn around a very disengaged employee, there are some actions you can take that could potentially help.

Here are some top ways to get your employees to be more engaged at work:

1.Practice managerial accountability

You can’t build a tasty meal with a subpar chef, and you can’t build an engaged team with a below average manager. How employees view their leadership (or lack thereof) has an enormous impact on their engagement levels and it’s important that managers recognize that.

Managers who want engaged team members have responsibility for creating a team atmosphere that fosters input, engagement, and feedback. Managers who fall short must be coached and re-trained so they can accomplish this goal, or otherwise deal with an unengaged team.

2. Understand employee strengths and areas for improvement

Making the effort to understand your team members, individually and as a whole, and honestly assessing where they shine brightest or need improvement is another effective way to get employees to become more engaged. That’s because when employees notice your efforts to get to know them, listen to their feedback about their position, and absorb the goals they set for themselves regarding their careers, they feel valued as more than just another number in your organization. It also helps realize their own worth, build their confidence, and creates a stronger bond between you and them, which contributes positively to their engagement levels.

3. Operate with transparency 

Employee engagement has a tough go if everyone in your company languishes in independent silos across the organization. That’s because in such a setup employees feel separate and apart from other parts of the company and less likely to feel the important sense of belonging that one needs to be engaged in one’s work.

Even if you can’t change how siloed your organization is, help your employees recognize their important role in the organization’s bigger picture by relating the company’s success back to their individual responsibilities. Consistently reiterate the main company goals and initiatives and verbalize how your team plays a part. Give them updates on how the company’s doing in reaching the goals, and the changes being made to hit them. By involving employees in the big picture, they can see themselves in the process and stay more engaged.

4. Provide tools for growth

Stagnant and repetitive activities aren’t good at promoting employee engagement. Because just thinking about it – it’s really hard to be excited and engaged at work when you’re bored! Managers need to remember to offer new projects, challenges, and other interesting ways for employees to better themselves and their skills at every change they get. A book, a class, an industry conference, or online training course gives employees the opportunity to improve themselves and their skill sets. Learning something new and then applying it to their work is a wonderful way to help employees stay engaged.

5. Recognize and reward engagement generously

Simple thank-you’s go a long way toward showing appreciation, but managers don’t have to stop at that. Announcing high performers and individual accomplishments at group meetings is a good way to show recognition, emailing announcements is another. Giving away small gift cards for going the extra mile, or half-day off are other ways that cost a bit more than verbal kudos but are worth the additional investment for your most valuable employees. These actions and rewards create a positive vibe of appreciation, which fosters engagement.

6. Encourage an environment of independent-thinking

Employees with zero control over anything in their roles and work life aren’t as able to feel connected to the company and can therefore become unengaged. Smart managers can change this by loosening the reins and handing over some control to capable employees. For example, give each team member control over certain smaller project deliverables and / or control over their own project timeline and schedules. This gives them the opportunity to flex and build upon their skills, while also instilling a sense of freedom that helps some employees feel more engaged.

7. Be on their side

Employees need to feel like their manager will fight for them, otherwise they might think “what’s the point?”. Leaders need to back their team up on projects, work with them on raises, and create a team environment rather than an employee/manager, “us versus them” workplace. Being on the employees’ side makes them feel valued, fosters their trust and honesty, and builds a cohesive unit that also increases engagement across the organization.

Helping your employees to be more engaged doesn’t have to feel impossible, because all it really takes is a change in mindset and a consistent effort. By building relationships with them, showing them how their jobs relate to the overall company success, and recognizing and rewarding a job well done, you’ll be able to increase employee engagement and enjoy a more efficient, productive team environment.

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Linda Le Phan
Senior Content Marketing Manager at kununu.

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