While it’s easy enough to talk about employee engagement and staff happiness, you need to make sure that your organization can walk the walk. So how do employees actually ‘become’ engaged? What steps do HR and management teams need to put in place in order to make this happen?
They must be given the right tools to succeed
In order for employees to become engaged in their job, they need to be given the right tools to succeed. Firstly, they must be given the physical tools they need to do their job as efficiently as possible. Holding out on important systems or technologies can slow your employees down and make their jobs harder. This in turn can cause them to become stressed and overworked. Because of this, it pays to listen to their needs and ensure they have the tools they need to stay productive.
Then, of course, there are other tools that you need to equip them with such as the right skills for the job. This can be done by way of offering regular training to employees, allowing them to boost their skills and become more efficient in their role. And finally, progression plans and goal setting are also important tools to keep your staff moving forward. This is not only beneficial as goals ensure they're reaching business targets, but it also keeps them striving forward and preparing to take the next step in their career.
They must be listened to
Now, this one is a big deal. Communication is absolutely crucial if you want your employees to become engaged. Not only should you be asking them for regular feedback, but you must also be listening to what they're saying and putting real changes into place to help improve the working environment and their day-to-day work.
From the moment an employee joins your organization, you need to begin asking them the right questions. These could range from ‘do you feel you're being supported?’ to ‘does your workstation help or hinder your working style?’. Because ultimately, every aspect of their working day can affect how engaged your employees are with their job and with the organization.
Some of the best ways to get feedback and listen to staff include regular one-to-one meetings and employee engagement surveys – you should never leave it until their annual review. Asking for feedback once a year simply isn't enough. Ideas for some of the questions you should address regularly include:
- Are you facing any challenges right now? If so, what are the biggest challenges you're facing?
- What’s going well in your role and what are you enjoying most?
- How fulfilled are you on a scale of 1-10?
- What is the morale like within your team?
- What process can be fixed/improved to make your job easier and more efficient?
- Is there anything in the workplace that you feel could be improved upon? If so, how?
They must always be supported
Leadership and mentoring shouldn't dry up after an employee has been with the company for a year or two. Employees need continual support and direction in order to become engaged. Otherwise, they might feel like they're stuck in a rut or like their particular role within the organization doesn't really matter. This can cause them to become dissatisfied with their position and ultimately less productive. It could even lead to them handing in their resignation.
As such, it’s important that managers are doing their best to support their teams in any way they can. It’s also vital that you create a corporate culture that encourages honesty and open communication. That way, employees can ask questions and feel confident speaking up if they're facing any challenges. It also means they’ll be more likely to say if they don't feel like they're being supported in one way or another, so you can address the issue right away.
Their hard work needs to be recognized
Another thing that is crucial to helping employees become engaged is recognition. If they don't feel their hard work is being recognized, let alone appreciated, this can be extremely demotivating. After all, no one wants to be putting in the hours, going that extra mile and totally dedicating themselves to the job, only for their efforts to be ignored.
And it doesn't always have to be a huge gesture either. Just a well done or thank you email can be enough to show employees that they’re not going unnoticed. ‘Employee of the Month’ schemes can also be a budget-friendly way to praise staff and let everyone else in the department know about their achievements.
They must have a clear path for growth
Last but certainly not least, it’s never too early to set out a path for growth. You might think that setting targets and talking about promotions when someone has only been at the company a few months can be a bit presumptuous, but it’s actually crucial that you do it at this stage. No one wants to stay in a job that seems to be going nowhere.
By setting out a clear path as early as possible, employees know what they have to do in order to take the next step in their career. This can help them become more engaged with the role as they can see a future within the organization. Most will understand that time and hard work stands between them and their promotion and they’ll be willing to put the effort in. This is how you engage your employees right from the get-go. Don’t leave them in limbo wondering if the job is right for them, always set out a clear path for growth right away.