4 Smart Strategies for Managers to Improve Employee Engagement

by Jan 24, 2016Employee Engagement Training

Employee engagement matters…more than we knew.

It is simple common sense that a disengaged workforce is not going to give their best each day. At worst, they may have completely checked out mentally and are just putting in their time. The costs of this kind of disengagement are huge. How can you as a leader even begin to achieve the business goals that are critical to organizational performance if your employees don’t care and don’t put in the effort?

There is a high correlation between high employee engagement and organizational productivity. Studies reveal that engaged employees are over 40% more effective and productive than their unengaged counterparts. At the same time, a surprisingly high 70% of the workforce is reported at best complacent and at worst actively disengaged. Which side of these statistics do you want to be on?

If you want employees to go beyond the requirements of the job because they are committed to the future of the company, you must continually build and rejuvenate employee engagement. Our work over two decades in employee engagement training has led us to understand how important managers are in terms of engaging and retaining employees. Here are four ways your managers can make a difference:

1. Share what you know about team engagement results.
If you do your homework as a leader to get regular reports on how well different teams are doing, make sure you make these results available to team managers. They deserve to know how their team’s performance measures up against other teams. Only with reliable engagement survey data, can they begin to figure out what is missing and how they can improve employee engagement, advocacy, discretionary effort and retention.

2. Train your managers to handle the information appropriately.
Once they have the employee engagement information, managers will need guidance on what to do with it. Give them direction on how they can work with their teams to improve the top 5 drivers of employee engagement. How can they encourage their employees to get more involved? How can the managers work with individual team members to learn what motivates them and where their interests and talents lie? How can the team as a whole build ownership and feel enthusiastic about what they do and where they are headed?

3. Hold them accountable.
If you are serious about a high level of employee engagement team-by-team, you need to hold your managers accountable for the engagement of their direct reports. Their team’s engagement results should be a key success metric of each manager’s performance. Keep track of this measure so you see continuous improvement, not just an initial upward tick. The key is in the follow-up. Managers need to continue to support their team members and to be available to them. A caring manager can make the difference between a team that cares about results and one that does not.

4. Recognize and reward success.
As engagement increases, be sure to publish results and celebrate them. A little encouragement goes a long way toward maintaining the focus on improvement. By the same token, a decrease of engagement is a cause for concern and action. Don’t ignore poor performance. Dig into the cause and fix it.

Then hold yourselves accountable to improving employee engagement by asking the following questions each year:

1. I noticed positive change as a result of the last survey.
2. My manager shared the results of the last survey with our team.
3. Our team developed action plans to address issues raised by the last survey’s results.
4. Senior leadership is committed to responding to the results of this survey.

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