Low employee engagement is one of the biggest problems businesses are facing today. According to Gallup’s 2017 survey, only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs. That means that the vast majority of the modern workforce is not invested in committing their time, talent and energy to the organizations they work for.
Why should that matter to you as a manager or a business owner? Because disengaged employees quite literally cost you money. Professionals who are not committed to their jobs tend to be 18% less productive and have 37% higher absenteeism. According to some estimates, employee complacency costs the American economy up to $350 billion per year.
If you’re in a leadership position at your organization, you can do a lot to improve employee engagement. Here are some strategies to re-energize your team and drive it towards success.
Provide the right tools
When Google struggled with effective management, they approached the topic scientifically. A newly-created research group studied qualities that make excellent leaders. Perhaps unsurprisingly, resisting the temptation to micromanage was right near the top – it came at number two. But the number one leadership virtue might surprise you. According to Google’s Project Oxygen, the key to fantastic management is being a good coach.
People who are unsure what their tasks are or how to complete them will not thrive at work. By investing in your team’s growth, you create an environment of commitment and trust. Identify the tools your employees need – be it a skill, an information exchange, or an essential software tool – and make sure to provide them.
Create meaningful career plans
To be engaged at work, employees need a clear vision of why their work matters, how they’re contributing to the company’s mission and where they’re heading. That’s why it’s essential to sit down with each of your reports to draft a career plan.
A career plan should list their current skills and responsibilities and reflect their goals and ambitions. Ask your reports about what skills they’d like to improve or learn. What responsibilities they’d like to take on. What brings them fulfillment, and they want to do more of. Whenever these goals are feasible, include them in the career plan alongside a timeline of completion.
Don’t forget about the previous tip – putting goals down on paper is not enough, you will need to give your employees the right tools to achieve them as well.
If you’re a person who thinks that a job well done is a job done their way, you will struggle with this one. But giving employees a sense of autonomy is crucial to improving employee engagement. If your report owns a project or a task, they will better understand achievement once completed. Carrying out your orders day-long, on the other hand, is a highway to job dissatisfaction.
Different people need different levels of support. Some will feel more comfortable with extra guidance. Others prefer to learn by doing. Check-in with your reports to figure out which type they are. You don’t want to micromanage, but you also don’t want to push employees too far out of their comfort zone too soon.
Embrace flexible working hours
A fixed nine-to-five schedule doesn’t work well for everyone. In fact, research shows that it barely works for anyone. Take the experiment conducted at Best Buy, for example. When the company rolled out the Results-Only Work Environment scheme (meaning that employees could work whenever and wherever they wanted), the voluntary turnover decreased by 90%, and productivity increased by 41%.
What Best Buy did might not work for every company. After all, meetings still need to be held, and clients typically expect communication within standard business hours. But there is room to experiment between a fixed schedule and total anarchy.
Many companies have core working hours when employees must be in the office and allow flexibility for the day’s remaining. Let’s say you want your team to be in the office from noon to four p.m., but outside those hours, they can design their own schedule. This arrangement allows parents to pick their kids up from school or employees with a long commute to avoid the rush hour.
Other companies allow work from home or even have a designated work from the home day when the entire company works remotely. Work from home days allows the team to focus on that task they’d been trying to complete all week but kept getting wound up in meetings or ad hoc discussions.
However, if you allow work from home, make sure your employees use a VPN to access business accounts and company information. Public Wi-Fi in cafes, coworking spaces, and hotels is famously unreliable when it comes to security.
Give due credit
This one is simple. Give credit when it’s due to show your employees that their work is appreciated. From a shoutout on Slack to a performance bonus, there are many ways to give well-performing employees the credit they deserve. Show your entire team that energy, enthusiasm and commitment are essential values in your organization.