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5 Ways To Keep Employees Engaged – And Why You Should Use Them

Posted by: on 22 March 2018 in HR, Talent Management


Most business leaders know that happy employees are productive employees. Still, many people across the world aren’t satisfied at the office. A 2016 Pew Research Center survey found that 30 per cent of Americans view their employment as “just a job to get them by.”

That’s a problem for business executives, regardless of business size, said Dr. Susan Hanold, vice president of HCM Strategic Advisory Services at ADP. If people aren’t engaged at work, they’re going to burn out or head elsewhere. Unfortunately, executives are busy and don’t often keep their staffers’ well-being top of mind. Employee engagement, Hanold said, drops lower on the list of priorities.

In today’s work environment, employee engagement is critical. Finding talent is more challenging, which makes it even more important to retain good people, Hanold said.

Of course, keeping staff happy is easier said than done. Even the best leaders have trouble satisfying and engaging employees throughout the year. So what can you do?

Here are five ideas.

Give Good Feedback

Employees may dislike the annual review, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like feedback.

ADP’s 2016 Employee Engagement study found that staffers want updates on how they’re doing and they want to receive recognition. Why? Because they need to know how they can grow and move up in an organisation.

“You’ve seen a kind of resurgence around the manager touch point,” Hanold said. Managers want a better connection, a tighter relationship and better-quality conversations with their employees, she added.

Included in this is training and skills development. “Growth and development matter to employees,” she said.

Help Staff Climb the Ladder

One barrier to engagement is that employees think they have no way to climb the ladder. Feedback can help an employee do better work, but that employee still needs somewhere to go.

To facilitate movement, some companies have established more career positions so that people can move higher, faster. These aren’t big leaps upward, Hanold said, but more incremental moves.

“There are more steps than there may have been in the past,” she said, and that helps engagement. “They say, ‘I’m really moving up the ladder, and I have a place where I can go.’”

Hanold sees Millennials mostly taking advantage of this mobility, but there’s no reason members of other generations can’t do so as well.

Be Passionate About Your Business

Contrary to the widespread myth of the passionate business leader who’s following a dream, not everyone in a corner office is as engaged as he or she should be.

And if business executives aren’t happy, their employees won’t be either, according to Jennifer Martin, founder of Zest Business Consulting. Like their employees, executives must be open to personal development, and they must find purpose in the work they do.

“How does the leadership team feel about themselves?” Martin said. “Do they like the business? Are they treating their team with kindness and respect? Are they taking that kind of attitude to everyone who comes in contact with the business? It starts with how they feel and how they interact with their team.”

Give People the Perks They Want

Everyone likes to be recognised for their work. Receiving things like gift cards, a day off or an invite to a special event can help excite workers. According to the Global Business Travel Association, some companies are even allowing staffers to add extra days onto business trips to let them explore the cities they’re in.

Some companies offer bigger incentives, such as tuition reimbursement, gym memberships and even pet insurance. While offering something extra can be a good idea, companies often make the mistake of providing perks that employees don’t want, Hanold said. If your workforce is older, they may not need tuition reimbursement, for instance.

“You have to know your target audience and be progressive,” she said. “If someone’s already working out, then they don’t need a new membership. But can you give them a discount on their existing one? And make it easy for them to get these perks and benefits.”

Ask Employees What They Want

If you’re not sure how to engage your staff, there’s a simple solution: Ask. What do your team members need to stay engaged? A ping pong table in the break room? More nights out as a team?

While people may have different opinions, just talking with them shows them that you care, and that alone will make them feel better about their workplace, Martin said.

“Asking people for their insights tells them that you like and respect them,” she said. “And that gets them engaged.”

Every company should be trying to increase employee engagement. Although it may cost something to take everyone out for dinner a few times a year, for example, your happier and more productive staff will pay you back through increased productivity.

“There’s no downside to this,” Martin said. “If you have a deeper level of engagement, you get higher levels of productivity, and that not only boosts your bottom line, but you’ll have better retention rates too.”

For more information, download the 2016 ADP Employee Engagement Study.

Blog post adapted from Forbes ADP Voice.

Bryan Borzykowski has written three books on personal finance. He also writes about businesses and technology. Bryan is on Twitter: @bborzyko.

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