HR Leadership: 10 Steps to Employee Engagement


How to Create an Employee Engagement Culture

Jeffery company employees
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found conclusively that investments in superior human capital generates better performance by the company.

This should answer the question WHY employee engagement is needed, but it does not answer the question of HOW.

Employees have to feel the work they are doing is worthwhile, and that they are making a difference.  Involved employees are more likely to give 110 percent, with energy and enthusiasm beyond the basic requirements of the job. 

An office (department or organization) with apathetic or unmotivated employees will soon see results, from lack of efficiency to an overall negative experience for clients and customers.

According to a 2009 study by CareerBuilder.com, over 40 percent of U.S. workers reported difficulty staying motivated at work. There are several explanations why employees lack the passion to do their jobs, and managers often do not have a hint (or are mistaken) of what exactly is causing worker apathy.

Companies with high employee involvement and engagement did not find some ancient, magical workplace secret. The simply figured out how to start a corporate culture that promotes engaged employees.

The leading companies place a high value on leadership and their role in communicating, developing and fulfilling employee expectations.

How can a company improve employee engagement, and make a positive corporate culture?

  • Have a Solid Vision

A definite vision of purpose and values is the first step in employee engagement. This vision must come from the top down, and leadership is solely responsible as the primary source of discussion about this vision. However, the role is not solely for C-level management alone. Every employee should be well versed in the vision statement, and clearly explain why the company does what it does. Give workers an emotional investment in the overall mission of the company; loyalty and productivity will result.

  • Clear and Reliable Lines of Communication

Communication is the heart and soul of engagement—without it, the seeds of failure will surely grow.  If a company expects an employee to devote time and energy to a common cause, keeping them in the dark is certainly not the way to go.  People crave dependable knowledge—about the financial health of the company, the progress in reaching goals and how their contribution is helping achieve corporate objectives.

  • Relationships with Supervisors

The main reason why people leave a job is a conflict with a supervisor. It is clear that employee involvement rests firmly with the administration of direct supervisors.  Communication of goals and polices, as well as an overall impression of fairness, is a direct function of how supervisors demonstrate respect for employees as individuals.

  • Encouragement and Development

Every worker wants to get ahead, develop and grow in their careers.  The greatest incentive for employees (second to pay) is opportunities for growth and development. Employee participation can arise from a strategy to enhance and develop opportunities from within.  Encouragement, coaching and mentoring should be an imperative for any corporate culture; it is the reason that a majority of CEO’s got their start at the bottommost rung of the ladder, and worked up to the top.

  • Teamwork

Interactions between employees are essential for establishing a rich environment; engaged employees need to feel like part of a team a team, a community, and a family.  In some cases, work interactions are the only real relationship they have, so feeling a part of a team is a vital part of their lives.

  • A Matter of Trust

Earning trust between employees, supervisors and senior management will only help boost employee engagement. The higher a person is in the organization, the more their decisions will be examined, to see how their accomplishments affect the overall direction of the organization. For developing outstanding leaders—and promoting engagement in workers—they must be firm and principled; then trust will develop.

  • Well-Defined Expectations

Nobody likes being kept in the dark; having specific goals and an expectation, providing tools and resources to perform the job is the backbone of employee engagement.  Employees must be accountable for reaching goals by means of a structured performance review process.

  • Perks, Recognition and Reward

Everyone likes to be recognized for exceptional work; in fact, we demand it.  Employee participation through leadership is when people realize that performance (especially over and above expectations) is acknowledged and rewarded. Showing how a company cares for their employees with rewards and recognition should be incorporated into the everyday business activities.

  • Employees Matter

Being part of the process, knowing their ideas matter and feeling they have input in the way their job is performed is a trademark of an engaged, involved employee. Do not forget, they are the ones in the trenches.  Feedback and brainstorming—and actually implementing bright ideas, no matter where they come from—will ensure employee participation.

  • Competitive Pay and Benefits

It may be obvious to some employers, but for every manager that is certain that competitive salary promotes employee engagement, there are several others that have no clue. Paying people a fair amount for the work they are doing, offering competitive compensation, benefits and equitable working conditions will have a positive effect on employee morale.

Incorporate some—or all—of these methods and a happy, productive workplace will result; one that undoubtedly impacts the bottom line.

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