Engaging Employees in the Workplace

Engaging employees often leads to greater job satisfaction.  So – what does it take to keep employees ‘happy’ and motivated in their jobs?

Surprisingly, not as much as you might think. Great news for the organizations who struggle to attain and retain qualified staff members.

The following are 26 “low-cost/no-cost” ways to motivate and retain employees. Whether you’re supervising staff yourself or advising your organization’s managers on how to keep their employees engaged and satisfied, these simple techniques can make a difference.

Engaging Employees From A to Z

A – Acknowledge

Make the time to tell employees how much you appreciate

them. These acknowledgments don’t have to be complicated – simple words of thanks,

public recognition of an employee’s efforts, or a notice in the employee

newsletter would do the trick. Employees themselves will be the first to tell

you that, when it comes to acknowledgment, it’s the little things that count.

B – Benefits

While most companies offer essential employee benefits like

paid time off for vacations or sick leave, health care, etc., in a competitive environment,

the basics may not be enough. As health care costs rise, employees are

concerned about the rising costs of their premium contributions.

Also, work-life issues are becoming more critical and can help

you differentiate yourself from the competition. Might allow for

flexible scheduling, sponsoring a bring-your-child, or even bring-your-pet, to the workday, etc.

C – Care

Employees have lives and problems outside the workplace. You

can, and should, express concern for employees. When managers or organizations

genuinely care, employees develop a strong sense of loyalty in return.

D – Determine What They Want

Employees don’t respond the same way to the same forms of

recognition or reward. Not all employees will welcome public attention.

E – Equity

In your employees’ perspective, are they treated fairly, and

are disciplinary actions consistent? Keep in mind; equity does not necessarily mean equality. Employees don’t expect the same treatment as their coworkers. What they do expect is that they get fair treatment.

F – Forgive

Employees make mistakes. When they do, how the company

responds makes a massive difference in their self-esteem and loyalty. Help everyone

involved, the company included, learn from mistakes. Consider whether work

processes – and not employee ‘incompetence’ – may be contributing to errors or

mistakes. Enlist the employee in determining and implementing a workable

solution and then move on.

G – Give Feedback 

Feedback should be ongoing, not just an annual performance

review requirement. Make sure employees know expectations of them and that they have frequent feedback to let them know how their performance compares with expectations.

H – Honesty

Employees appreciate your honesty, even if the information

may be unpleasant. Better to hear from you directly than to hear news or

feedback through the grapevine.

I – Involve

Are employees offered the opportunity to participate in

decisions that affect the organization and particularly their jobs? Being asked

for their opinions on issues large and small can be incredibly motivating and

push efforts toward engaging employees.

J – Jump!

How quickly do you respond to employee requests? Whether you’re

a manager or a human resource professional, service to employees is an urgent requirement of your position. Even if you can’t fix the problem,

commit to providing some form of response, also if it is merely, “We received

your comment/request,” as immediately as possible.

K – K.I.S.S.

Keep it Short and Simple. Employees want to perform

effectively and efficiently. They can’t if the processes or tools provided to

work with are inefficient or ineffective.

L – Listen 

Do you have formal and informal mechanisms in place to listen to your employees? Whether in the form of suggestion boxes, online forums, or one-on-one conversations, offering employees the opportunity to share their comments, suggestions, and concerns is vital to keep them engaged.

M – Manage Effectively

How well do your managers manage? Studies continue to show

that an employee’s direct supervisor has the most significant impact on his or her

performance, loyalty, and motivation to the company.

N – Nudge 

Don’t accept mediocre performance from employees. Push them

to do their best, to give a little bit more next time than they did the last

time they performed.

O – Opportunities 

Notice which employees are upwardly mobile. What

opportunities exist for employees to move into higher-level and

more challenging positions?

P – Pay

While pay isn’t the most important motivator for your

employees, it’s right up there. The key is equity – both internal and external.

Make sure that your pay practices are consistent between positions within your organization as well as within the market you draw employees 

Q – Question 

You can learn a lot from employees if you take the time to

ask them. Concerned about turnover? Ask employees what they think the problem

might be. Wondering whether it’s a good idea to expand into a new market? Ask

your staff what they think.

R – Reward 

“A fair day’s pay for

a fair day’s work” is an outdated view of the relationship between

employees and the companies they work. Engaging employees rely on

offering more. You need to reward individual or group efforts that contribute

to the organization’s mission or exemplify the kind of performance or behaviors

you’d like to continue to see. Be creative. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to

offer meaningful rewards and incentives to employees.

S – Share Information

Employees need to know anything that will help them make a

more valuable contribution to your organization. That contribution may be

merely sharing positive information about your company’s products or services

with friends and acquaintances – or it may be making decisions on the job that directly

impacts the bottom line. Don’t hoard information as a source of power.

T – Talk to Them

Talking with employees indicates that you’re interested in them and their opinions. They appreciate the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers directly from those who are in-the-know.

U – Understand Their Issues

The issues that are important to your front-line customer service

representatives are different from the problems that are important to your order

processing employees. Stay informed of what those issues are.

V – Value

Perhaps your organization is one that employees feel proud

to work for, or your benefits package is particularly generous. Maybe your

on-site health club facility is better than any place in town. That value may

already exist, but you have taken the time or thought to remind employees that

it’s there. What unique extras does your organization offer to employees?

W – Why? 

When going through the process of decision making, implementing

a new policy, or changing an existing one, do you let your employees know why?

Many companies lament that employees don’t like dealing with change, but that

isn’t necessarily true. What employees don’t like is change they don’t

understand. Communicating the why behind the decisions you make is a simple step

to take toward engaging employees.

X – (E)excellence 

Employees like to feel like they are part of an organization

that they can proudly brag about to friends and family. They want to tell

others about the great things their company does and how they help contribute

to those great things. Employees feel proud when their organization reaches its

goals, creates new products, or achieves recognition. Strive for excellence.

Y – Yes! 

It’s easy to say, “no.” It takes more time to find ways to

meet employees’ needs. Nobody likes to hear “no,” but we all appreciate a

demonstrated willingness to find some common ground.

Z – Zest 

Having fun at work isn’t a bad thing. It’s excellent!

When employees enjoy their jobs, they enjoy coming to work. Consider ways that

your organization can create a zestful environment that makes employees wanting

to be there and doing their best for years to come.

This article was carefully crafted after “Engaging Employees – From A – Z” by Lin Grensing-Pophal, SHRM.

Employee Engagement or Performance Challenges?

HR Service, Inc. can help you identify and resolve employee burnout, motivation, and performance challenges. Also, we train leaders on how to create an engaging work environment and to solve performance problems.

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