While there are many keys to success in business, one of the most important is employee satisfaction. Without dedicated employees, who understand and support the organization’s mission, a business will fail. How, then, do you ensure that your employees are engaged at work? There are different aspects to the employee experience and while some of them do not come with a financial impact, others do.
Investing money and resources into employee development and engagement might seem counter-intuitive to you as there is no guarantee that they will remain with your company. However, when investments are made in employee skill development and engagement, the results include higher productivity, increased efficiency, and elevated levels of innovation. In fact, when your employees recognize your investment in them, their commitment to the business and loyalty scores increase, diminishing the risk of voluntary departures from your workforce.
According to a Gallup poll on Employee Engagement from 2014-2017, only 32% of employees in the United States reflect active engagement in the workplace. What does an actively engaged employee look like? They demonstrate
· Consistently high levels of performance
· Natural innovation and a drive for efficiency
· Clear understanding about their roles
· Emotional commitment to their work
· High energy and enthusiasm
· Commitment to the organization
As leaders, how can we create a culture of organizational engagement? We need to encourage work-life balance, provide a safe working environment, both physical safety and emotional/mental safety, and offer training and development.
Work-life balance affects the overall well-being of your employees. When they have a good work-life balance, they are happier, more relaxed, and less susceptible to burnout. Multiple studies have shown that when employees feel that they have good work-life balance they work significantly harder than their counterparts. Employees with good work-life balance have higher overall employee engagement which results in an improved company operating income by at least twenty percent.
High engagement also influences creativity and innovation. When employees are happy, they are more likely to be satisfied in their jobs and inspired to offer new ideas and suggestions. Additionally, it is important to note that one quarter of employees who do not feel supported in work-life balance intend to leave the company before the end of two years.
Creating a work environment that is “safe” for employees is another important aspect to
increasing engagement in the workplace. While feeling physically safe at work is also important, safety in this context means that employees feel supported by their leader and team. To make employees feel safe, great leaders must be openly communicative and sharing, invest in one-on-one time with each person, give positive feedback and constructive criticism, encourage collaboration, and be ready to have corrective conversations.
Creating a safe environment is not about avoiding conflict. As a leader you must be ready to deal with performance issues for the overall well-being of the team. It is also important to be aware of behavioral changes and be willing to ask questions. Watch for altered behaviors such as being late to work, lack of eye contact, changes in mood, tension between employees, and so on. Any kind of sudden behavioral shift should be noticed. Checking in with your employees shows that you care about their mental health and emotional well-being, even if their change in behavior is not work related.
While there are many reasons people apply for and accept a position, such as salary and benefits, one of the driving factors is the opportunity to advance their career. In order to provide that opportunity, employers must invest in employee development.
Investing in employees include but are not limited to:
· Professional training
· Intentional conversations (ask questions, i.e. “what challenges are you facing?”)
· Encouraging cross-departmental collaboration
· Building core relationship skills (communication, collaboration, etc.)
· Investing in your employee’s personal development; including programs like tuition reimbursement.
While investing in employees can mean different things to each company, employee development starts on the first day. It is important to properly onboard and train new employees. If an employee is not given this opportunity, they will end up confused, frustrated, and pressured to catch up, which leads to disengagement.
After initial training, many employees will want to continue to develop their skills and take on new challenges, which, of course, increases employee engagement overall. You can stimulate engagement by giving new duties to employees to prevent boredom, allowing growth in their positions, or, if it’s possible for your company, offer a job rotation program so employees can be stimulated with different tasks.
When you take care of your employees, they take care of your business. Increasing your employee engagement through encouraging work-life balance, creating a safe working environment, and offering development opportunities will increase production and profit in the long-run. An employee who has high engagement has an investment into your company and its goals which will drive your business further into success.