The problem – grumpy employees cost companies a whole whack of cash. Productivity droops, and employees are ready to hit the eject button at the first chance they get (which means headhunting and training costs rise). Employee engagement isn’t just some mystical mindset of the hug-it-out crowd; it’s a serious cost-savings strategy.
Depending on whom you ask, downcast employees cost the U.S. economy upwards of $200 billion a year. And that’s a conservative estimate.
Turn That Frown Upside Down (and Into Profits).
Here are 5 big steps you can take in boosting your employee engagement:
1. Massage Employee Muscles.
All employees have their strengths. When you’re having a chat with them, be it a formal performance review or just a “Hey how’re things going?” chat, recognize those strengths. Point out how their particular brand of awesomeness has made a contribution to Project X, or how it’s boosting other employees.
If they’ve made a mistake or two (and they will), mention it, offer solutions or help, and then move on.
2. Make Friends.
Have you seen those hip go-getters on T.V. that join some organization and say they’re “not there to make friends?”
Ick. Who wants to work with that? What a hoot to have to walk into the office and see that person’s face every day.
Socializing at the workplace is not the enemy of productivity (always within reason of course). On the contrary – employee engagement increases with friendships at the office – willing teams always work better than a bunch of individuals forced to share space.
How do you encourage friendships to develop? Here’s where some perks are your friend – maybe offer some group classes in something cool like kung-fu, or have a team lunch day that spawns a friendly competition between designated groups to outdo each other.
Volunteerism is another great team-building exercise. Added bonus – this is an opportunity for someone in the office to take on a leadership role.
3. Work ‘Em, But Don’t Break ‘Em.
Overwork is a real thing. It causes stress. Stress causes illness. And there goes your productivity.
Encourage your workers to balance out their lives. If there’s a heavy workload, find out what you can do to ease the burden. Can you spread the work out? This delivers the added bonus of training staff in new procedures.
If you’re short-staffed, make sure you keep your current employees updated on your hiring efforts. This will show that you recognize that there’s a problem and that you’re working at it.
Employee engagement can be boosted by the simple act of inviting some poor overworked soul to take a break with you. Some employees (especially new hires) might feel a bit hesitant about taking breaks. If they see you doing it, especially if you invite them along, they’re going to feel that it’s okay to take a breath every now and then.
If an employee does something right, say so. Employee engagement can get a boost from a simple thumbs-up.
Did they do something bigger? Celebrate bigger. If you can’t afford bonuses, how about a lunch out with the boss? A little party around the office. Even just a tip of the hat in an email that gets sent round the company.
5. Hire the Cool Kids.
Part of your hiring process should be to make sure that your new talent not only has the skills you need, but also gives off the right vibe to fit into your company’s culture.
Imagine some super-serious career financial institution type of person being slotted into a young, hip, upstart company that has a ping-pong tournament every afternoon at 4:30. That person is going to dread coming into work, and that feeling is going to radiate out from them, infecting the rest of your staff.
Not sure if a person is going to fit in? Have your section manager weigh in on the interview process. The manager’s employee engagement is going to get a nice boost from being able to have a say in whom they work with, and they’ll probably have a good idea of who is going to make for a good fit with their team.