“To win customers — and a bigger share of the marketplace — companies must first win the hearts and minds of their employees.”
– The Gallup Employee Engagement Study
Employee engagement is a critical predictor of organizational success. When employees stop feeling engaged, the focus shifts from thriving to merely surviving. Energy gets diverted from what can be done to make the most of the workday to just getting the workday over with. Some of us may have experienced this first-hand as we wait, wait, and then wait some more during a call to Customer Service.
Studies including Gallup’s indicate that the usual ‘pain points’ – pay and employee perks – weigh less than we suspect. They matter, but when it comes to what makes employees want to and be able to be at their most engaged, the same factors that affect most human relationships come into play: appreciation, growth, and communication.
- Acknowledge and Celebrate Everyday Wins– It’s human nature to want to feel valued and successful. Many companies, particularly those with sales teams, have an annual event recognizing top performers. But victories of all sizes are won all the time, and while many managers and executives think it’s not a big deal, it is for the employees. Whether it’s completing a big project, winning a bid, making a suggestion that saves the company some time and money, or even a first or sixth anniversary (we tend to recognize ‘rounded’ numbers like the fifth or tenth anniversaries), celebrate it out loud. Don’t stop with a printed certificate or a quiet thank-you. Stretch that feel-good moment with maybe some cupcakes, a team huddle – and if it’s available to you, share it in your company newsletter, blog, and the appropriate social media platform.
- Enable Growth and Enrichment– No matter what our age or where we are in our careers, any opportunity to grow, learn more skills and, yes, earn more, is a great motivator. With the employment outlook getting sunnier each month, it’s important to have these opportunities in place – and to make sure that your employees know about them and how they can be accessed or attained. We need to refocus our efforts (and often our budgets) on learning, development, and career advancement for our current employees.
- Keep Conversations Flowing– We are in the golden age of feedback, and immediate feedback at that. From deciding where to eat using Yelp!, to choosing a laptop based on online reviews, we are becoming increasingly conditioned to put more credence in casual, real-time perspectives. And it’s not just the Gen-Y people. Many people prefer ‘real’ interactions, which might explain why executives dress down when making announcements… being friendly and approachable is no joke and a seriously effective way to keep ongoing constructive conversations going. Rather than wait until scheduled employee reviews or an Outlook-announced meeting, when an opportune moment for a quick brainstorm or giving feedback comes up, take it. Giving frequent and timely feedback keeps the team personally invested and on track with both short- and long-term goals. Conversely, maintaining an open-door policy invites employees to come in for a quick conversation about concerns, questions, or ideas.
Going the extra mile for your customers is easier when your employees are in step with your goals as a company.