Understanding the difference between engaged employees and employees who just show up for work has long been the key to running a successful business. An engaged employee will be more committed to their work and the company whereas a disengaged employee will simply be working for a paycheck.
So, how do you get your employees engaged and committed to your business? Start with these 21 ways.
- Recruit smart
The recruiting and hiring process is an essential step in securing employees who are dedicated to both the company and their work. To find the workforce’s rising stars more organizations are turning towards unique recruiting and hiring methods.
Demandbase focuses on hiring for culture before all else. They believe people can learn skills, but people rarely change their personalities to fit a job. They focus on the fact that skills can be learned and know once a task gets easy things have become stagnant.
- Build strong orientation programs
A recent study found that 31% of people have quit their job within the first six months. 76% of people who left during the first six months left due to a lack of on-the-job training. Orientation plays an important role in the long-term success of an employee and organization.
LinkedIn recently earned Bronze for “Brandon Hall” award for the Best Onboarding Program. LinkedIn focuses their orientation program on creating unique employee experiences, designed to seamlessly transition employees into their new roles. They have done this by creating a digital “New Hire Roadmap” for employees to follow, taking orientation past an employee’s first day on the job and into their first month. They believe on boarding is critical for both the candidate and the company as it can lead to long-term employee engagement and increased retention.
- Share company mission and values
Create a company with strong moral values and beliefs. No matter what your company believes in, your employees should believe in it just as well.
Zappos has long believed in establishing strong values and a company culture early and is frequently named one of the best places to work. Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO, believes what is most important is that a company finds what is important to them and aligns their organization around those values. He offers up some tips for developing company values and says “figure out what your personal values are and then just make those the corporate values.”
- Create a career path
Today, individuals entering the workforce are looking for companies to really develop their professional skills with. So, train your employees for the long term and work to promote from within. This can be done by implementing on-going training, development, and creating managers who groom employees into leaders.
Training shouldn’t stop after orientation either. Development programs give your employees an opportunity to not only maintain their skills but to continue to advance them. Investing in your employees future shows that you care and helps to further create loyalty.
Southwest Airlines offers a series of development opportunities for their employees. For employees at all levels, there is leadership development programs, manager training programs, and even technical training and professional development through Southwest Airlines University.
- Establish trust
A positive work relationship is based on trust. Organizations that have the most trust among employees and managers are typically the most successful. An employee who trusts the company and their leader will be far more likely to follow through on goals, deadlines, and will go the extra mile for the organization.
In the workplace, trust is earned through integrity, communication, and a shared set of values. Your employees should know that you stand by your word, keep your promises, and are aligned with the same goals. Remember, once trust is lost it is very difficult to get back.
A major part of building trust and gaining commitment is transparency. A lack of transparency makes it difficult for employees to trust their employers. Keep employees in the know regarding company happenings and changes (if it impacts the department or not). Just be open.
One of Hubspots top core values within their Culture Code is transparency. The company actually has an internal Wiki which shares financials, boarding meeting decks, management meeting decks, “strategic” topics, and for some fun… a few company lore & mythology stories. Sure there is some non-disclosed information, such as information which is legally required to be confidential and naturally the information that is not fully theirs to share i.e salaries and compensation.
A recent Harvard Business Review study showed that 70% of employees felt more engaged when they were continually kept informed and updated by their leadership teams.
- Set Clear Goals
Sure as a manager you’re great at delegating and assigning tasks, but are you being clear? Do you employees actually understand what you’re looking for? You may be surprised to hear that only 50% of employees know what is expected of them at work.
The problem is we assign too many tasks and begin to work on too many different projects. To avoid this set clear, focused goals for yourself and your employees.
- Empower Individuals
Being micromanaged at work can be tough and most often has the opposite effect managers are trying to achieve. Employees become disengaged, frustrated, and confused regarding their responsibilities. Employees want to feel that they are trusted and counted on to contribute to the overall goals of the company, embrace and empower this. The more you empower your individual employees the more successful your organization will be.
- Encourage Innovation
Innovation does not solely stem from CEOs and directors. The most effective leaders understand that teamwork fosters innovation. Step back and encourage employees to collaborate and push the envelope. Your employees may very well surprise you.
- Take a genuine interest in employees
Remember, your employees have interests and lives outside of the office. Show that you care about your employees by getting to know them on an individual level. Share stories, lessons, and maybe some words of wisdom. By doing this you make employees feel included rather than alienated.
- Seek feedback
Let’s face it, none of us are perfect. But feedback gives us an opportunity to acknowledge and work on the things we are not yet great at. Naturally, it can be difficult for employees to approach their employers with feedback. So, ask insightful questions. Get the honest truth from employees by going to them for input. Ask them what you can do to better help them, how they think you should approach a specific situation, or what they would do about a specific project or client.
Who knows, you may just like their idea better!
- Offer incentives
Incentives are much more than raises and bonuses, although those are nice, of course! To become committed employees must feel as though they are valued. A recent employee benefits survey revealed that nearly four in five (79%) employees would prefer benefits over a pay increase. Some of the incentives more valuable than a raise included; healthcare insurance, paid time off, retirement plans, office perks, and employee development programs, just to name a few.
Google’s employee incentive programs has been successfully dominating. Employees enjoy free food for lunch and dinner, car washes, wellness services, employee development programs, and several family focused perks. As a result of Google’s focus on people they were named the 2014 “Best Company to Work For” by the Great Place to Work Institute.
Starting with just some small perks can go a long way in terms of motivating employees and making them feel valued.
An employee is less likely to commit to an employer who won’t commit to them so, be flexible with your employees. Understand that life happens and your employees have a life outside of work.
American Express has long been recognized for their focus on flexibility and work-life balance. In a recent interview, Melanie Backs, the Director of Public Affairs for the company said:
“Implementing policies or programs that allow employees to make time for what’s most important to them, whether at work or at home, helps to attract and retain top talent. At American Express, we give many of our employees choice in where they work through modified workspaces; flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting and work from home; and technology that makes it easier to work remotely.” – Melanie Back
The company has provided a number of telecommuting jobs, child care services, and perks for their employees.
- Introduce recognition programs
Did you know that the number one reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they do not feel as though they are appreciated or valued? It’s true. Organizations with highly effective recognition programs have had a 31% lower turnover rate than organizations without a recognition program.
Recognition doesn’t have to be expensive, but should be meaningful and should celebrate the individual employee. Take note of birthdays, important milestones, anniversaries, and major accomplishments. Rewarding individuals based on these achievements and milestones gives them something to look forward to and work towards every day.
Groupon recognizes employee anniversaries with customizable bright green Adidas track jackets. The jackets can be personalized with unique nicknames and star patches for additional years at the company.
- Challenge employees
As a business owner or manager, you should be your employees biggest motivator. In order to do this you must actively seek out employees with potential and push employees to their full potential. Encourage your employees to take the lead and show them what type of impact their work is having.
Keep your employees in the know regarding what is happening by holding company meetings or “town halls.” Town halls are company-wide meetings led by the CEO. Use this opportunity to share earnings, plans, and big company happenings with everyone. Further, use this opportunity to recognize key employees and milestones.
Pluralsight holds company-wide town hall meetings every Friday where all remote offices connect via video conference. While the meetings last a short 15-20 minutes, key executives have the opportunity to speak and each meeting is ended with a customer success story.
- Keep up the positivity
Encourage positivity, reflect positivity. You should echo how your employees feel and should act as their biggest motivator. As a leader, your employees need to know that you believe in them. So, inspire them with actions. Be a champion for your team!
- Keep employees engaged
Keeping employees engaged is the key to a well-performing company. Engaged employees are more productive and produce higher quality work. Unfortunately, 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged. Employees are typically most engaged when they have strong relationships with their direct managers, believe in their work, and feel connected to the company.
REI has had excellent success with employing creative engagement techniques and continue to strive towards a strong culture and high employee engagement. In an effort to continue increasing employee engagement, the company created an online “company campfire” which allows managers to share ideas and its employees to comment. On their company page they share company news, employee awards, and recognition.
- Create leaders
Having employees is not enough, you need to turn your employees into leaders. Your team should be filled with people who possess the traits of natural born leaders. When this is done, your employees will be better equipped to handle various situations, giving you more time to focus on the tasks you need to.
- Give work meaning
A job is something that is done for financial reward while a career is an investment in work and overall achievement. Make your company more than just a job for your employees, make it a career. Employees are most committed when they feel that they are taking something away from their role, not just working from 9 to 5.
As an entrepreneur, you should strive for nothing less than excellent. Truly committed employees will surpass any other workforce you could ask for. They will be more motivated, productive, and profitable for the organization overall. Let your employees lead your business forward by creating long term committed employees.