Nurture a Culture that Engages Employees (and Boosts Business!)

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In celebration of Easter, here’s a question along the lines of which comes first, the chicken or the egg: is employee engagement the result of good business and perks like better pay, or does good business happen because employees are engaged? A Gallup study confirmed what many smart employers already know: engaged employees produce better business outcomes than other employees do– across industries, company sizes and nationalities, and in good economic times and bad.

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.

Create Opportunities 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.

Support Growth and Enrichment

Our founder, Bernie Howroyd, is a big proponent of constant learning. His saying, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot,” is his message to everyone to be open to learning from any experience or person, even negative ones, or the newest hires. 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.

Be Available – and Accessible

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.

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