What keeps an employee feeling engaged in the office? Is it the friendships he or she develops with coworkers? A manager that serves as a mentor? Stimulating and challenging work? Or a healthy dose of all three? For each and every employee, his or her motivations for waking up each morning and going to work will vary. But the bottom line is that a happy employee equals a better employee. A more engaged employee results in a more successful and productive employee.
To me, this is a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t a company want its employees to be happy and productive?
Oftentimes, though, if employees are not engaged, it’s because employers are not focusing on the big picture. They assume that once an employee accepts a position, they don’t have to work more to retain them. Unfortunately, though, the work doesn’t stop after the interview. In fact, this is where the real work begins and it’s also what will set your company apart from the competition. Once your employees are engaged, they will want to stick around and growth will inevitably follow.
So, how does a company achieve such engagement? There is no formulaic way to do so but a combination of the below tactics – or even just one or two of them – will help foster employee satisfaction.
- Establish upfront that there are opportunities for employee growth. Applicants want to know they are not settling for anything. When you consider how many avenues there are to find the right job – LinkedIn, Monster.com, Indeed.com, word-of-mouth, etc. – the options are overwhelming and give job seekers the ability to be selective and choosy about what they apply to. Candidates nowadays would much rather take a pay cut for a job that is their dream job than settle for one that doesn’t give them the kind of opportunities or satisfaction they would get elsewhere. That’s why it is so critical that employers emphasize there are opportunities for advancement and growth, whether that’s a promotion down the line, the flexibility to shadow other departments, or internal growth opportunities, such as workshops to learn new skills. Employers shouldn’t just establish this upfront but also encourage employees to seek out these kinds of opportunities.
- Ensure employee understands expectations of his or her role but also foster the employee’s inquisitive side. Employees want to know that their opinion is valued and respected. They want to feel comfortable sharing a new idea or proposing a change to the way conventional things work. Of course, not every idea will be a golden one but when employees do have a voice in the office, astounding things can happen: out-of-the-box ideas will be born, brainstorming and collaboration will thrive, outdated and stale models will evolve, and employees will be happier and more engaged as a result. Encourage employees to ask questions, voice concerns, analyze problems and identify solutions, but also teach them to be respectful of others and adhere to the expectations of his or her assigned role.
- Develop an office culture that keeps employees active, social, and comfortable. It’s a pretty basic concept: when employees are healthy and happy, their performance at work will shine. When they are overworked and stressed, their performance will decline. I’m a big advocate of the work hard, play hard mentality and if employers forgo play, the work will suffer. Here are some suggestions of programs I’ve seen that succeed in the office: reimburse employees for going to the gym a certain number of times a month, offer incentive for employees to bike or rideshare to work, organize at least one social event a month (team lunch or outing), organize a softball or kickball league, and allow employees to take time to read up on new trends and attend workshops that may benefit the company overall.
- Train managers and executives to be leaders through leadership training. A good manager, executive, CEO, or boss should be a role model to other managers and superiors in the company. That means taking the time to listen to other employees’ concerns but also setting an example by constantly educating oneself on new leadership models and tactics. For example, part of being a great leader is creating an open-door policy. Consider this scenario: an employee is dissatisfied with something in the office. Her manager has expressed to her before that his door is always open. Together, a solution is discussed and this employee can go home happier.
- Treat your employees like the adults they are: You hired your employees for a reason. Something about that individual impressed you or stuck out to you. And vice versa: that individual saw something in the company or job description that called out to them. There is (or should be) an unspoken understanding when it comes to employees and their work: they are adults and should be held accountable to a certain level of professionalism. This means that if they need to schedule a doctor’s appointment, it is up to them to find a time that makes sense around their work schedule. If they want to work remotely, they should be able to do so, as long as it is appropriate for that particular project. At the end of the day, it’s about trust and respect and it’s a two-way street.
So, how does accomplishing the above lead to growth? Employee satisfaction goes up, and growth naturally follows. Employees won’t feel the need to job hop and will stick around as long as he or she feels valued and engaged. The less turnover a company has and the more employees enjoy the work they are doing and the company they are working for overall, the more the company will thrive as a result.
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