These days everyone seems to be preaching about the importance of employee engagement…and they should be. An overwhelming amount of research details the crucial role engagement plays in improving workplace morale, productivity, healthy culture, bottom line, retention, and more. The list goes on and on.
What is Engagement?
Of course, it’s all fine and good to understand engagement as a concept, but what does it mean to actively, intentionally cultivate engagement, and how do you do it?
For those trying to wrap your head around the idea, it may be helpful to think about generating engagement the same way you would think about romance. If a marriage engagement is a sign of future commitment for two people who have fallen in love, you need to think about how you can get your people to fall in love with their jobs and your organization.
Tips for “Romancing” Your Employees
Tip #1 – Hiring
It all starts with the hiring process. As with any relationship, it’s helpful to understand what you are looking for in another person – their values, personality, style, goals, etc. So, build a profile for the personality types and attributes that best fit both your organizational culture and values, as well as the specific position for which each applicant applies. High functioning teams do not form overnight, nor do they magically occur by accident. You have to be intentional about identifying and seeking out the people you want on your team, then work hard to build the processes that attract and develop them.
Tip #2 – On-boarding
Second, create an onboarding process that highlights the mission, values, and vision of the company. Good onboarding involves a coordinated program of education, training, mentorship, and facilitating connection and trust between the new hire and current employees. Throughout all those elements, the mission, vision, and values should be reinforced regularly, but authentically. Simply repeating a list of values or a tagline won’t create a lasting impression. That’s why sharing anecdotes and examples of values in action or the importance of the organization’s mission are important. It’s why letting the new hire spend time around other employees or mentors who genuinely live out the company ideals in their everyday life as well as their work helps build a strong foundation for commitment. Finding tangible, emotionally impactful ways to connect these crucial organizational elements is the best way to ensure employees condition their daily decision-making lens in a manner consistent with work and an organization they can be proud to engage.
Tip #3 – Show & Tell
Third, show and tell each month. Tell your employees where you are going and then show them in a concrete way. Oftentimes employees forget about the vision because they get stuck in the mundane nature of their daily tasks. Maybe it’s conducting site visits to important projects to help employees see tangible results from their work or perhaps it involves engagement with programs your organization supports. You can also take time to update employees on mission progress and seek regular input on the future of the organization. Whatever the methods, consider how you can highlight the things that make your company unique and worth loving, then give them real, meaningful experiences to drive the point home.
Tip #4 – Better Together
Fourth, take them with you. If you have an opportunity to speak, connect with a client, or talk on the phone with other employees, prospects, or anyone else, then take them with you. Be an example – apprentice them and show them your engagement. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a good example is worth a thousand training sessions. Don’t forget about the power of relational investment, it could very well prove your greatest weapon in fostering truly deep, committed engagement.
Tip #5 – Culture, Culture, Culture
Finally, never stop working on your culture. When you invest in your culture you remove the risk of having it all fall on you by equipping the culture itself to create healthy engagement. Culture is contagious and so is belief in a common cause. Build your people up with the right ingredients and the right support, then see how far they’ll go to advance the mission they’ve bought into by joining your organization.
Getting people to become engaged is the secret to success for many companies. Those who do it well will win in the end.
If you want to win and have fun doing it with authentic people who have your back, engagement is your answer and it’s worth the effort.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to cultivate greater employee engagement, we’re happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let us know!