Improve employee engagement with 5 everyday leadership practices

Employee engagement is a real challenge for many businesses. Over 50 years of research from Gallup supports the fact that engaged employees produce better business results, independent of industry, company size, nationality or economic conditions. However, only 15% of employees worldwide are classed as ‘engaged’ at work. The way a company treats employees and how employees treat each other can hugely affect their actions. This can have a negative effect, thus placing a business at risk or a positive effect, producing outstanding results that drive a business forward.

Forbes.com describes employee engagement as ‘the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.’ Due to this emotional commitment, engaged employees are the ones that really care about their work and their company. They want to be part of something, have a significant impact, and succeed in both their personal and organisational goals.

Engaged employees are genuinely enthusiastic about what they do and the impact it has on the business and its customers. They act as “owners,” with a vested interest in the strategic direction and vision of the business, always operating at high performance. Whilst unengaged or actively disengaged employees who often only do enough to keep their jobs are unattached to their work, and at the extreme can be resentful towards the business and attempt to derail progress being made. Their needs aren’t being met, and so they lack energy and can act irresponsibly due to their unhappiness. Unengaged or actively disengaged employees can pose a significant risk to themselves, their fellow employees and the business.

This is why it’s important to prioritise employee engagement all year round, embedding practices into the organisational culture, instead of considering this just before the annual survey comes out!

So now we understand the importance of focusing on employee engagement, simply because engaged employees will produce better business outcomes, and that’s what every ambitious CEO wants.

We’ve put together 5 everyday leadership practices that can have a positive impact on employee engagement:

1. What’s Your Purpose

The first thing to consider is purpose. Do you have a clear business purpose that matters to your employees? How are you communicating this business purpose? To truly engage employees, they require some clearly defined boundaries to work towards. They need purpose, not just pay. Employees want to feel important to a business; they want to see how their hard work impacts overall performance and feel valued for their input. This is what drives employee engagement. Effective communication of the overall business purpose, vision and key strategic objectives provide employees with the opportunity to contribute their efforts more effectively and speak up with ideas for innovation. Are you actively involving employees in decisions, business direction and how their work impacts this?

For some ideas on how to make meetings more interactive so employees feel more involved and have the chance to share their successes, check out our blog 10 questions to make every minute count in your weekly progress meetings.

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn. – Benjamin Franklin

2. Personal Development

The next thing to focus on is training and development. When people are learning they are evolving, open to new ideas and innovation, which helps move a business forward. How are you training your employees? Do they each have a personal development plan that they are actively working towards, not just something gathering dust? Does this plan focus on specific areas they want to develop instead of areas you want them to develop? Do employees get guidance and time allocated to work on their development plans?

3. Working Together

If asked in a confidential environment, would your employees say they work FOR you or WITH you? Are you their boss or their coach? It’s a subtle difference in approach but can have a huge impact on their level of engagement. What could you do to coach more and manage less? Coaching can be immensely inspiring and empowering for employees, encouraging further positive engagement in the business goals.

We’ve all been on the receiving end of a poor annual appraisal. I’ve actually experienced this in the past where the whole thing was simply a manual box-ticking exercise. No value to me at all. I’m still a fan of an annual review to dig deep into specifics and ensure effective communication of company goals and objectives. However, it’s also essential to have regular, ongoing, open communication. Check out our blog Communication is key! Open your mind with NLP.

Being honest, how effective is your current communication style? Do you have time planned for regular check-ins with your team? Do you proactively communicate the business purpose and vision with your teams? Doing this will help employees feel like you’re investing in them and value their input, hence improving employee engagement and driving results in your business. Imagine a culture where your team asks for a 121 and are eager to progress and work hard to achieve great results for your business!

4. Focus on Strengths

When we’re young or early in our careers, we get told to play to our strengths. It’s no wonder how consistently focusing on an employee’s weaknesses will not help them feel engaged, encouraging them to feel actively disengaged. Instead, focus on their strengths and only offer very constructive criticism when absolutely necessary. A business will perform better when they have the right people doing the right jobs, all playing to their strengths. What do your employees do really well that they should do more frequently? Are there some things they’re good at that, with some additional training, could become excellent? This practice will help empower employees to succeed and improve efficiency.

5. Whole Life Approach

Obviously, the working relationship mainly focuses on what’s going on while an employee is at work. However, employees are real people with lives outside of work, so it’s important to consider a ‘whole life approach.’ This involves taking a genuine interest in their lives outside of work, their families and hobbies. In doing this, you could identify any potential conflict going on outside of work that could affect their performance. Once something like this is identified, you can support employees through difficult times with empathy. This introduces another layer of connection and trust within the workplace. How good are you at considering an employee’s bigger picture? Do you take a genuine interest in them and support them where necessary, or do your Managers do this with their team members?

In summary, consider these 5 everyday leadership practices to help improve employee engagement:

  1. Think about purpose, not just pay, and cascade this throughout the business
  2. Allocate time for ongoing conversions, more effective communication and Personal Development Plans
  3. Do your people work FOR you or WITH you?
  4. Are your teams working effectively - do you have the right people in the right roles all playing to their strengths and feeling empowered?
  5. Consider that ‘whole life approach’ with all of your direct reports and cascade this company-wide

By weaving these 5 everyday practices into your organisational culture, you will encourage high performance, improve employee engagement and facilitate outstanding business results! Check out our blog on 8 tips to align and engage distributed teams to maximise focus on key strategic objectives.

For help communicating key strategic objectives amongst the wider business and aligning teams for remarkable results, please get in touch. Email hello@reclaro.com.

Posted by Pete Wilkinson

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