Remember the scene in ‘Ocean’s 11’ where Danny Ocean recruits his team of expert criminals by appealing to their unique skills and motivations? When you understand what drives your team members, recognize their contributions, and provide opportunities for growth and development, you can inspire them to be more engaged, productive, and committed to your organization’s goals.
No, I don’t mean we inspire your employees to strategize an elaborate heist. But considering how Ocean was able to pull off such a feat, it makes you wonder what the missing ingredient could be in how you’re handling your team.
I’ll let you in on the secret—it’s employee engagement.
In this article, we’ll discuss what employee engagement is all about and how it influences the atmosphere and culture in the workplace. We’ll also cover what comprises engagement in the context of workplace settings so you can build a team that is motivated, enthusiastic, and ready to achieve great things together.
In 2021, upon returning to work after the COVID-19 lockdown, employee engagement hit rock bottom, with a dismal 34% of U.S. workers feeling truly connected to their jobs. Organizations are grappling with a critical challenge: motivating and retaining their top performers in the face of this disheartening trend.
Employee engagement is more than just a buzzword—it’s crucial to any thriving workplace. Simply put, it refers to the level of emotional connection that employees have with their jobs and the organization they work for.
Unbeknownst to most employers, engaged employees are not just there to collect a paycheck —we wish it would be as simple as handing them the fruit of their 9 to 5 toiling. But these people are passionate, committed, and motivated to make a difference. They want to feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their work and are eager to contribute their unique talents and skills to achieve shared goals.
These people will likely be called “Employee of the Month.” But what does employee engagement really look like?
Think of a team brimming with enthusiasm and energy, where each member feels valued and appreciated for their contributions. It’s a workplace where employees feel comfortable voicing their opinions and ideas while receiving constructive feedback and recognition for their efforts. It’s a culture of trust and transparency, where employees are empowered to take ownership of their work and make decisions that align with the company’s mission and values.
Conversely, a lack of employee engagement can have disastrous consequences for both employees and organizations.
Disengaged employees are less productive, less innovative, and more likely to leave their jobs. They may feel disconnected from their colleagues and managers and may not see the point in putting in extra effort or going above and beyond. Ultimately, lacking engagement can lead to a toxic work environment and a high turnover rate, harming your company’s bottom line.
Do you remember feeling so invested in a movie that you couldn’t look away? That’s the kind of engagement we’re discussing—the kind that keeps you on the edge of your seat and fully immersed in the story.
Well, the same principle applies to employee engagement in the workplace. It’s about creating an environment that captures the hearts and minds of your team, inspiring them to give their best every day.
So, what are the key aspects of this cinematic engagement level? Here are the top elements you should focus on to turn your workplace into a blockbuster hit.
Employees who feel like their work has a purpose and makes a difference are more likely to be engaged. It’s not just about completing tasks. It’s about feeling like you’re contributing to something bigger than yourself. For example, a marketing manager might feel more engaged if they know that their campaigns are helping to drive sales and revenue for the company.
Feeling appreciated and valued is a crucial aspect of employee engagement. When managers provide regular feedback and recognition for a job well done, employees are more likely to stay motivated and engaged. This can be as simple as a “good job” or a shoutout in a team meeting. For instance, a customer service representative who receives regular feedback and recognition for their excellent customer service might feel more engaged.
A supportive work environment can make a big difference in employee engagement. This includes things like having access to resources and tools to do their job, considerations for life transitions and other indicators of healthy work-life balance, and regular training for improved skills that can benefit an employee in the workplace and potentially at home. Imagine employees having access to flexible work hours or the ability to work from home (in the near future, this may likely be the daily workplace reality). Small considerations of their unique work style may make them feel more engaged and motivated to complete their work.
Employees want to know that their company provides opportunities for their growth and development. Employees who feel like they are continuously learning and growing are more likely to feel engaged in their work. This can be through training programs, mentoring, or regular conversations with their manager about their career goals.
For instance, a guest services representative might feel more engaged in their job if they know that there are opportunities for them to move up (i.e., be promoted) into a leadership position within the company.
Finally, strong leadership is key to employee engagement. When managers lead by example, provide clear expectations and goals, and support their team members, employees are more likely to be engaged in their work.
A team leader who sets clear goals and expectations for their team and provides support and encouragement along the way can help their team feel more engaged in their work.
Are you ready to take action and boost employee engagement in your workplace? In this section, we’ll explore practical strategies and initiatives you can implement to cultivate a more engaged workforce.
People want to feel valued and appreciated for their contributions. Recognition and appreciation can come in various forms, from a simple “thank you” to public acknowledgment of a job well done. For example, you can implement an employee recognition program where team members can nominate each other for their achievements or create a “wall of fame” where outstanding work is displayed for everyone to see. Bonus: Learning your employees’ unique Language of Appreciation is a great way to customize your forms of recognition and help employees to feel seen for who they are rather than only for what they can provide. Be sure to comment for a consultation on organizing a workshop to do just that with me!
Communication is essential to building relationships and fostering collaboration Encouraging open and transparent communication helps employees feel heard and understood. You can organize regular team meetings, establish a suggestion box and conduct employee engagement surveys, or create a digital platform where employees can share their thoughts and ideas.
Until the COVID-19 pandemic, many offices held team-building workshops to engage the employees for better collaboration. But even in the remote, new-normal workplace setup, strategies like this could work through careful planning and innovative virtual communications.
Employees want to grow and develop their skills; providing growth opportunities is a great way to keep them engaged. This can come through training and development programs, mentorship, or job rotations. For example, you can offer your employees a chance to attend a conference or workshop that aligns with their interests and skills.
Work-life balance is crucial for employee well-being and engagement. Employees need time to rest and recharge; providing work-life balance workshops can help reduce stress and prevent burnout. This can include flexible working arrangements, time off, or wellness benefits like gym memberships or meditation classes.
Empowering employees means giving them the autonomy and resources to do their jobs effectively. Empowerment creates a sense of ownership and accountability, which can lead to higher engagement and productivity. You can empower your employees by delegating tasks, providing them with the necessary tools and resources, or encouraging them to take ownership of projects.
People like to feel valued for their hard work and contributions. When employees feel like their efforts are going unnoticed or unappreciated, it can lead to disengagement and demotivation. Simple gestures like a shout-out in a team meeting or a thank-you note can go a long way in making employees feel recognized and appreciated. You can book a workshop to customize your Recognition with me here
Many surveys surrounding workplace issues often point to poor communication as one of the leading factors contributing to employee disengagement, which translates into an alarming reduction in productivity. A study conducted by Gallup in 2022 revealed that the impact of disengaged employees on global productivity is staggering, with an estimated cost of $7.8 trillion in lost productivity. You can read about improving interoffice communication here.
Communication is key to any healthy relationship, including the one between employees and their employers. When communication is lacking, it can lead to misunderstandings, confusion, and mistrust. Providing regular updates, having open-door policies, and encouraging feedback can help improve workplace communication and increase engagement.
People want to feel like they’re growing and progressing in their careers. Employees can become stagnant and disengaged when there’s no room for advancement or opportunities for learning and development. Providing clear career paths, offering training and development programs, and encouraging employees to take on new challenges can help keep them engaged and motivated.
Nobody likes a control freak, especially in the workplace. When a boss hovers over your every move, it feels like they don’t trust you to do your job properly. That can leave you feeling pretty unappreciated, and no one wants to put their best foot forward when they feel like their boss is constantly breathing down their neck.
And let’s face it; micromanagers are creativity killers. It’s tough to come up with innovative ideas when you’re always being told what to do. “Put it to rest, John. It doesn’t seem aligned with our goals,” is precisely how the irrational boss would phrase it.
Hovering and nitpicking can also take a toll on your employees’ mental health. When they feel they are constantly being observed under a microscope, it’s easy for them to start feeling anxious and stressed, which is not good for anyone’s well-being.
Finally, being micromanaged can limit your employees’ growth and development. When we’re always told what to do, we don’t learn how to make decisions independently. This makes it harder to develop our skills and take on more challenging tasks.
Employees need to have a healthy balance between work and their personal lives. When work becomes all-consuming, it can lead to burnout and disengagement. Encouraging flexible work arrangements, offering paid time off, scheduling consistent training opportunities, such as MIND Performance training, and modeling a healthy work-life balance can help employees feel more engaged and energized at work.
In summary, employee engagement is not just a buzzword, but a critical aspect of a thriving workplace culture. By fostering a sense of purpose, belonging, and commitment among your team members, you can unleash their potential and drive your organization to new heights of success.
Whether you’re a startup founder, a seasoned HR manager, or a team lead, the key is to listen to your employees. You also have to understand their needs and aspirations and provide them with the tools, resources, and support they need to succeed.
Remember, just like Danny Ocean’s crew in Ocean’s 11, your team is stronger together than apart. Again, we could plan a heist, but you might soon be reading this inside a cell. Just kidding!