How to engage your workforce?

I am sure we have all had different experiences with different employers, I know I sure have. One of the best feelings while on duty is the feeling of “engagement” with your work. I don’t mean just showing up, punching in and doing your job, I mean actually feeling like you are a part of the company, and your work matters not only to you, but the company and entire team.

Employee engagement isn’t just some “new age” or “millennial” type of corporate jargon… No no no, it is an actual business strategy that any company can implement and benefit from. You may be asking, “Yeah sure sounds great, but what benefit could I possibly get from making my employees actually like their work?” Well, for starters, how about an increase in productivity of your workforce?

You see, highly engaged organizations have up to double the rate of success than lower engaged ones. Turns out, when people are happy and like what they do, they work more! In addition, an engaged workforce has less absenteeism, tardiness, lower attrition rates, few safety accidents, and fewer quality complaints. All of this has immediate effects on productivity, quality, and even customer service. Does any of this sound like a reason to get your staff engaged?

There are many ways to increase engagement, such as implementing group events outside of the office, inviting customers in to give examples of how your product or service has benefited them, giving your employees great benefits like healthcare and holidays, etc. All of these will in the end have to go for budget approval, pass through HR, and get signed off by the highest in your organization… But, what if there was an easier way; a way that only involved your management technique and office environment? Let me show you some keys to unlocking an engaged staff.

  • Talk about your progress. Especially individuals’ progress, most especially if they are new joiners and learning a new process or new function within your organization. Letting people know that you see them growing and progressing is amazingly satisfying to their morale and self-esteem.
  • Encourage their development. You have a vacant position in your team? Why look outside the organization when you can develop that talent from within? If you have an engaged workforce, they will already have received some cross-training and be interested in the opening. Promoting from within and pushing your team in their career progression not only helps the one getting the job, it helps the rest of the team realize that they can be more than they currently are. Give them opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Praise them publicly, often, and reprimand in private. When someone is told they have done a great job during a work gathering, award ceremony, informal group email or business meeting, they feel validated for their work. Recognition is a big boost to morale. Not having it is relegating someone to working in the shadows; only doing their master’s bidding, doing all of the hard work for their boss to get their new Range Rover. Doing it in front of their peers not only validates their hard work, but lets the rest of the team know what is expected, and who to look to for advice. On the flip side, public shaming or reprimanding does the exact opposite. Let someone know in a 1 on 1 sit down what they’ve messed up, how it has affected the team, and how they can learn from it for future reference.
  • Listen to their professional opinions, and let them know that they matter. Nothing will make an employee more engaged than asking them this simple question, “Tell me, how do you think we should do it?” And don’t do it with sarcasm or arrogance, be sincere. I have said it before, you don’t know everything, and the “boots on the ground” probably no how to do the job or fix the problem better than anyone in management.
  • Always remind them that their job is important. Every manager should by now know that every position in their organization is relevant and important. EVERY POSITON. I mean, if the position wasn’t important, why would you be wasting the payroll and headcount on it right? No matter how far “down the chain” someone may be, without them doing their exact function the entire process would be affected negatively somehow. So make sure your delivery team, customer support, back office admin, and even your cleaning staff know just how important their work is, and how they contribute to the company. This, in turn, will keep them engaged with the organizational goals, as they are aware of what they need to do to achieve the end results.

Please keep in mind, the above are only a small handful of things we can do to motivate and engage our workforce. Other tactics include building the company environment in a way where the employees feel that the management actually cares about them, where they can feel comfortable coming to work every day, wherein the employees can develop a sense of camaraderie and feel they have a “best friend” within their work space. This type of working culture will give you back an enormous amount of productivity as well as the added benefit of a motivated and dedicated workforce.

So come on managers and team leaders, be the change you want to see in your staff! What I’ve mentioned takes no budget, no approvals, and no feasibility studies. Just talk to your team, praise your team, listen to your team, and encourage them. I know from experience that an engaged organization will always run laps around an unengaged one, and going to work every day is whole lot more fun, for everyone.

Sharom Farid Al Ansari