One of the biggest challenges of our time has been how we manage to keep employees engaged in their work. All too often we seem to see employees who are competent, but not engaged in their work.
As we begin to be introduced to more and more distractions in the workplace courtesy of the humble invention known as the smartphone, it’s not hard to see how employees are becoming less and less engaged over time.
Distractions don’t have to be unproductive. It’s often noted that “business-as-usual” tasks in the office such as checking emails, and some of the biggest time drains of time we often see are sources of “semi-productivity” such as LinkedIn,
Employee Engagement becomes an issue not just to maximise productivity, but to ultimately raise the standard of work that is being produced across the board. When engagement is lacking, the type of work this produces is often just good enough to get by, but is rarely enough to exceed expectations.
Defining employee engagement
To us, Employee Engagement is defined as the the relationship an employee has with:
- The work
- The company
- Their colleagues
Viewing this in context of going to work every day, we see that the reason why employees choose to not be engaged is due to a breakdown between one of these elements. The question remains, how do you keep employees engaged?
The answer is to address each of these elements at their root cause.
Step 1: Address an employee’s relationship with their role
The first step to increase employee engagement is to address a given employee’s relationship with the work. We don’t turn up to work to hang out with our colleagues, nor do we turn up to represent a great company. We turn up to work to do the work. For almost everybody, only the work matters. Employee engagement often starts by defining the role, addressing the work that needs to be done and ensuring that the work is understood. Engagement happens when an employee understands the importance of their work and also knows why they come to work. From this, a relationship between an employee and their work can increase engagement.
Step 2: Change the internal perception of the company
Internal marketing is one of the hardest things to do. In organisations that don’t have a good buy-in at an employee level, it becomes incredibly difficult to engage with tasks when there is a lack of trust or belief. To change the perception internally of a company takes a lot of guts and determination. It involves management admitting its mistakes, and owning up to them. If they can do that, it can go a long way to changing the internal perceptions.
Sometimes it takes a few shakeups to change the company perception. This might spell the writing is on the wall for some managers. As we all know, clearing the decks is not without pain. Shakeups will almost always have a lead time, so there are other, smaller things you can do internally to shake things up. This might be anything from creating more engagement at town hall meetings, or reaching out through Slack. As long as management as a whole puts in the effort to change perception, that is all that matters.
Step 3: Build the foundations for a great culture by hiring right and training well
The most important part of building Employee Engagement is to hire the kind of people that would be most engaged with the work. Part of the reason we hire based on experience is because experienced employees often engage better with the work. This isn’t always the case though, so as a rule of thumb hiring decisions should be based on cultural fit over experience.
From this, it’s important that employees get all the support they need through training. If an employee is trained well, they can find themselves best equipped to engage with the work, and less likely to engage in idle banter with their colleagues. Good training can help employees engage with each other about work matters, replacing what could be a time consuming talk to a discussion that could be beneficial to the organisation.
It takes some time to build Employee Engagement, but following this model is the best way to do it. Building the relationship employees have with their work, the organisation and each other is the fundamental way to build Employee Engagement.