What makes an organization a “best place to work”? The benefits? The facilities? The answer is communication. By analyzing employee engagement surveys, Inc. and Quantum Workplace identified the Best Workplaces in 2020 and reported that the major theme among this year’s highest-scoring organizations was listening. The survey discovered that highly engaged workplaces have management teams who consistently monitor the voice of the employee through surveys, manager check-ins and town halls.
People are more likely to be engaged when they feel like they are listened to and their work is connected to their purpose. It’s important for leaders to recognize that while you can’t force individuals to be motivated, you can create the right environment for people to be motivated within. When people feel cared about and are treated as valuable members of the organization, they’re motivated to do their best. For most of us, meaning comes from feeling useful and being recognized when we do something well.
Employee engagement is influenced by several factors including the organization’s culture and how the organization invests in developing its people. In fact, each of the Nine Principles® for Organizational Excellence has a stake in the overall employee experience. Not only do employees desire to work for organizations that value a strong culture and leadership development, they also appreciate alignment to goals, reward and recognition and as mentioned above, effective communication.
There are many things you can do to increase employee engagement. The following are a few steps we recommend to get started:
- Build Relationships – Schedule 30/90 Day Conversations for new employees, this is critical to retaining and engaging new team members. Connect monthly with your direct reports. Devote this time to listening, removing barriers and offering support towards goal progress.
- Focus on Value – Discuss how individual’s actions and goals lead to meaningful outcomes. Connect those you lead to their inner purpose. Help employees understand who their work impacts and that they are valued member of the team. Recognize at least one team member per week for a specific reason.
- Act on Feedback – Collect the feedback received from monthly conversations, employee engagement surveys and employee forums. What are the data telling you? When leaders take action with employee feedback, trust increases and employees will feel like they’re heard and their needs are being considered.
- Onboard with a Plan – Starting a new job can be a somewhat emotional transition for new employees. A memorable, well-thought-out onboarding process is the right way to create a great first impression and affirm the individual’s decision to join your team.
Impact During a Crisis
What I have asked is, no questions, at least once a week I want you to see your teams through technology, because I think that was key to us being able to trust each other as we move forward.
– Dr. Natalie Harder, former Chancellor of South Louisiana Community College | EP 67: Move Forward by Doing the Next Right Thing
In times of transition or uncertainty, people benefit from stability and routines. To keep teams engaged in their work, and therefore productive, it was first necessary for leaders to meet individuals’ emotional needs. Establishing check-ins to gauge how direct reports are feeling and their ability to work virtually, as well as establishing weekly huddles for teams were the first steps many of our partner leaders took. As Natalie expressed above, meeting weekly in teams was key for trust and progress during tumultuous times.
For some teams, crisis may bring about a heavier workload and the need for greater adaptability. People may prepare for scenarios and situations that we may find weren’t necessary after all. Despite increased workloads and priorities, in times of crisis, people need opportunities to meet one-on-one with their leaders more than ever. We recommend four questions for brief connections to facilitate relationships between leaders and their direct reports:
- What is working well for you?
- Do you have what you need to do your job?
- Is there anything I can do to help you continue to perform well?
- Is there anyone who has been especially helpful to you?
Dale Shaver, Waukesha County Director of Parks and Land Use, was able to recognize the added benefit of these questions as his team was navigating COVID-19 earlier this year. Dale explains, “And what I really like about it now, in a crisis, is that they are very positive based questions. It’s so easy for staff to get caught up in what’s going on with the crisis and the numbers that are escalating, and by being asked regularly ‘What’s working well?’, ‘What can we do differently?’ It’s driving the mindset of our employees to keep focusing forward, keep focusing on the successes.” | EP 68: Focus on the Positive
Do your employees have all the tools and resources necessary to do their best work? Do you spend time building relationships with individuals on your team? Are you connecting people to their purpose through worthwhile work and rewarding a job well done?
Set aside time to analyze the employee experience within your team or organization. If you lead people, identify one or two actions you can take to increase the engagement level of your team.
EP 67: Move Forward By Doing the Right Next Thing
with Natalie Harder
EP 68: Focus on the Positive
with Dale Shaver