What is employee engagement? Hint: it has nothing to do with coworkers becoming betrothed.
It’s not just a strategy; it’s a movement to promote camaraderie and happiness among employees. With the recent rise of strong office culture values, it stands to reason that many companies are reassessing how they interact with and treat their employees.
One of the most important parts of employee engagement is authenticity. No, really. If a company uses employee engagement practices as a tool to emotionally manipulate employees to make them more productive, they’ve missed something along the way. More importantly, employees will see through this, generating internal backlash against a company.
No, it’s less about this and more about including each employee as an integral member of a team, with their own ideas and skills to contribute to the efforts of a company. If your employees wake up in the morning eager to come into work and put forth effort, then you’re clearly doing something right.
Of course, it’s hard to fully define what employee engagement means, but at the base level, if an employee is engaged, then they are ready and willing to advance the organization and believe that they can make an impact. Conversely, disengaged workers do little to contribute or even actively undermine the workers that are accomplishing things in the office.
With all of this in mind, what can CEOs of companies do to keep employees active and inspired by a company? While tactics such as employee appreciation days may generate short-term passion, promoting employee engagement is a long-term process that may require a company to rethink their management strategies.
Promoting engagement starts with strong leadership and communications; while a CEO may actively want to keep employees happy and involved, more relevant are organizational managers that work with them on a day to day basis. No amount of effort on part of a CEO can compensate for a manager that treats his or her subordinates poorly. Communications, on the other hand, is a bit more of a broad concept, but underscores all of the other practices that we will be discussing.
Reevaluate your managers. Starting employee engagement initiatives often involves a company-wide survey, but pay particular attention to the results of managers. Ask about their leadership styles, or observe them working. You may find, as a CEO, that there are problems you had been too far removed from to see.
This brings me to perhaps the most important tenet of employee engagement: listen. Listening leads to making connections and makes company leaders more approachable. Managers should be among the first to initiate new ideas, but be willing to listen to feedback and incorporate employee opinions into their strategy. They should facilitate improvement and communicate well; encouraging employees to take their own initiative on projects.
In a similar manner, employees should not only be recognized and awarded for their efforts, but empowered to take on further leadership opportunities. Enabling career advancement is important for companies to avoid stagnation; and providing the tools to advance improves morale and gives people more control over their lives. Nobody wants to feel like a cog in a machine; every employee is a human with desires and the drive to do well. By giving employees more control over their actions at a company, they become contributors instead of mindless drones.
Promoting collaboration is a great way to give individuals more control and a voice in the workplace. Not only does it foster teamwork and trust between employees, but it leads to a more frequent exchange of ideas. Part of being a human instead of just an employee is bringing a unique perspective to a company; another facet of creating an environment of strong communicators. Leaders should strive to unite individuals to assist with company goals and endeavor to create a sense of trust among team members.
You will never be able to definitively say that you have created a company of engaged employees; employee engagement is not a goal, but a mentality based around the notion that companies should be honest and communicative with the individuals that work for them.