Employee engagement can be best described as the level of enthusiasm and dedication a worker feels toward their job.
This not only has an effect on how long employees stay within your company, but it also affects their performance at work, which can be directly tied to revenue growth and customer experience.
I don’t know about you, but here at BossLady, we’re all about creating extraordinary customer experiences!
But how can employee engagement be improved? Well, it starts from the top, and in today’s blog, we’re covering the four key factors of employee engagement that you should focus on in your organization.
1 – Happiness
Bottom line, happy employees tend to work harder. This not only builds a productive culture within the workplace, but they also take their contentment with their work and the brand they represent outside the workplace with positive reviews and spreading brand awareness.
This positivity then attracts new customers and high-quality candidates to further enhance the workforce, and the cycle continues.
We understand that “happiness” may be different for every employee, and there are a lot of things that go into someone’s happiness but think about ways that you can create a positive environment for your staff. How can you make your employees feel supported and heard at their job? Is there a tool you can provide that’ll make their work easier? Can you or someone on your team be more readily available to help with questions or to solve struggles they have? Or how can you help them understand their importance and part in reaching the company’s goals? We have found that in most cases, what makes the employees happier, is when they feel they are empowered and have the resources to take care of and serve the customer well.
But pitfall warning…don’t just decide what your employees want. Take time to hear from them on what will make their job more satisfying and what will help improve their work experience. You can do this with surveys, meetings, round tables, etc. Be careful to not only talk about “satisfaction”. Engagement is deeper – it is what makes them want to stay, it is found in what they say about working for you to others, and what will help them want to continue to invest in your company. It’s not if they like the chair they are sitting on.
But, don’t you dare do these surveys without communication and a plan for implementing changes. That’s the fastest route to disengagement! If you don’t intend to incorporate the feedback, you’d be better off never collecting it.
2 – Belonging
Just as most people yearn for a sense of belonging in their private lives, employees seek acceptance in the workplace that goes beyond just a “cultural fit”.
They have the desire to be an accepted part of the team and to feel needed and supported in their work.
Enlightened leaders know that building this kind of culture will result in a winning organization. How can you achieve this sense of belonging for your team? Make sure that your entire internal and employee communications are built on a meaningful strategy. Many leaders just go with what is the “word” or “issue” of the day, but to map out a plan for how you will develop your team, create an inclusive culture, build an open and safe environment, takes intentionality.
A few ways to create this kind of culture:
Make space for formal and informal team-building.
Sometimes organizations don’t allow enough time for employees to really get to know each other, to understand who does what, what you like as a human, what is important to you, what are your strengths. This is especially true cross-functionally.
Allow some activities or time where team members can introduce themselves, chime in with their ideas and opinions, as well as report on progress or work accomplishments. This may take place in structured or unstructured “meet and greet” types of forums, meetings, or workgroups. You will be amazed at what you find out about your team!
One way we have seen this successfully implemented is informal conversations such as “lunch with the CEO” (or other leaders), which provide opportunities to break down walls, allow access, and encourage questions. Have these types of activities scheduled regularly and invite all levels of staff. You can also create regular “mini-events” or discussions at town hall or staff meetings where you add special themes that can be a way to draw out specific feedback or even consider gamifying the progress towards reaching your common goals.
Develop a Process or System for Ongoing Feedback and Continuous Improvement.
Whether it is a team huddle, one-on-one meetings, suggestion box, or other methods, make sure you have a mechanism designed for employees to present ongoing issues or concerns AND their recommendations for solution. To do this with a call center team, we designed a specific time in every team huddle (and accompanying process for feedback between meetings) where employees could bring trends or concerns to the table. We identified topics that were bubbling up repeatedly and then invited those staff to be part of the solution with a mini-workgroup session designed to find a resolution. This process created a welcome environment for addressing customer friction points vs. feeling like they were a pain in the back for “complaining”. The key was to help them be part of the solution and create a process that required innovation and solutions within it.
3 – Purpose
Employees want their work to be purposeful in the sense that it gives them direction and is fulfilling to them on a personal level. They want to feel that what they do matters and has an impact on the bigger picture of the company they’re working for, not just that they’re logging in hours for the sake of doing “busy work”.
For this, it’s really important that you help connect their work to the overall mission and values of the organization, in order to help your employees feel like they matter, not only to the company, but also to their supervisors, coworkers, and customers.
It’s essential that your managers and leaders have visibility and clarity on what their teams are accountable for and that they are regularly providing insights to their teams on how it’s going. Don’t hide progress if it’s not going well. Employees want to know where they stand and how it’s going and when you can involve them in how to do better, that builds engagement.
If you’re already gamifying the progress towards your goals, maybe you can break those down even further by department, or even have individual milestones for each team member, and then provide them with a way to track their progress in a visual format – for example, a poster board they can color in each time they get a sale, or turn a complaint into a happy customer. However you choose to display this, a visual system (Kanban, tracker, roadmap, etc.) is helpful so everyone can contribute and see where they may be able to do more or help the team.
4 – Trust
Going back to the first topic, having feedback from your team is crucial for improvement in all areas of your business.
But in order to get that feedback, employees need to feel empowered to discuss issues and ask for help with both positive and negative aspects of their role.
Employees need to trust the leadership in order to provide an open and honest dialogue about tough issues and to respectively consider the perspectives of all stakeholders involved. And it’s your job as the leader to make sure they feel safe, heard, and understood. Issues can’t be punished as “complaining”. The fastest way to shut your team down is to be impatient with the feedback you don’t want to hear.
“When leaders and managers begin to live out a clear, consistent, aligned culture that inspires high commitment, employees begin to believe in and live out the organization’s purpose in their daily work, ultimately delivering on their brand promise in a genuine and powerful way.” Gallup 2 (p.17)
Building trust takes time, consistency, and intentionality. If you’ve taken time to gather feedback, communicated well about how you are using those insights, invited the team into solutions for customer or business issues, and welcomed regular feedback and transparency around what works or doesn’t…you will find your team committed to helping you and the organization succeed.
Hopefully, this article has given you some food for thought for some changes you can implement within your business. Remember: a happy employee not only performs better at their job, leading to happier customers and an increase in revenue, but they also stay at the company for longer, which will save you a lot of money in re-hiring and re-training costs.
So don’t brush this off as a non-priority. Lead your employees well and good things will come.
And if you need an outsider’s opinion on what changes could be done in your particular case, we offer a free *no pressure* strategy call, where we’d be happy to give you more custom recommendations. You can book a time that works for you here.