It’s probably safe to say that most business leaders understand (at least anecdotally) that there’s a direct link between employee engagement, individual productivity and the company’s overall success. Strategies for increasing employee engagement attempt to bridge the gaps between these three elements, so your employees become more invested and fulfilled, your teams achieve their goals more consistently and your company delivers more efficiently on its promises.
In their 2017 State of the American Workplace report, Gallup estimated that only 33% of American workers were “engaged” at work – leaving 51% going through the motions and 16% actively working against the interests of the company. While those numbers may vary slightly for Canadian businesses, there’s no doubt that companies on both sides of the border (and across the globe) are struggling with disengaged, under-performing employees.
Unpacking the 4 Core Employee Needs
The “end goal” of employee engagement strategies isn’t to create a happier workforce – but to build an environment where individuals, teams and the company can thrive. To achieve that goal, you must first understand the core needs shared by all employees.
1. Basic Needs: Do I know how to be good at my job, and do I have the tools I need to accomplish that? Generally speaking, employees want to perform well, and those who feel that success is a moving target or impossible to achieve experience chronic stress and, ultimately, become disengaged from the overall mission.
“Employees who strongly agree that their job description aligns with the work they are asked to do are 2.5 times more likely than other employees to be engaged (Gallup).”
So, check in with your employees to see if their job responsibilities are clear, if there are unnecessary barriers to success and if they have the physical resources they need to thrive.
2. Individual Needs: Is my contribution recognized and appreciated, or do I feel invisible and replaceable? When it comes to creating a high-performance culture and increasing employee engagement, recognition and appreciation are amongst the greatest missed opportunities for managers. It gives your top performers a much-needed sense of accomplishment, while modeling success for those who haven’t (yet) risen to the top.
“Employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely as those who do feel adequately recognized to say they’ll quit in the next year (Gallup).”
So, ensure your supervisors and managers are being specific and immediate with praise, recognition and feedback – especially if you’re hoping to encourage employees to share new ideas and become more engaged in their work.
3. Teamwork Needs: Do I belong here; do I feel like I’m making a difference; and do I feel like the team is committed to the same values as I am? Especially motivating for the Millennial Generation, this aspect of employees’ needs addresses inclusion and higher purpose. Building an engaged and loyal workforce means creating an environment in which employees connect with something bigger than themselves.
“When employees possess a deep sense of affiliation with their team members, they are driven to take positive actions that benefit the business — actions they may not otherwise even consider (Gallup).”
So, when it comes to improving engagement, start by training your management team on ways to incorporate the company mission into the daily work and to develop a mutual trust in each other’s commitment to delivering quality results.
4. Growth Needs: Do I have the opportunity to grow and learn, and is there a defined path for that growth? Innovation stems from environments where team members are continually learning, evolving and exploring new ways to approach their work. If there isn’t a clear path for growth at their current company, you can be sure employees are going to look elsewhere for new opportunities.
“What is most important to employees is that they understand how they are doing, their manager’s perception of their work quality and where their work may be leading their career path (Gallup).”
So, think about the ways in which you can support your employees’ growth needs, but don’t only consider additional training. This aspect of performance development also includes supporting employees’ abilities to find a better way to do a job, take on additional responsibilities and mentor other team members, too.
Create and Implement an Effective Employee Engagement Strategy –Getting the Results You Need and Want!
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