What motivates people may surprise you. While it is important to pay people fairly, offering the highest wages will not guarantee engagement. It is entirely possible to have employees who are satisfied; enjoy their pay, job tasks, hours, coworkers etc. but who are not engaged and willing to expend discretionary effort.
Having an engaged workforce leads directly to increased profit, higher customer satisfaction and lower turnover.
Sounds wonderful! However, increasing engagement is a two-way street. You can not expect more without giving more. The good news is “giving more” doesn’t have to cost you money but it will require focus, attention and energy.
Build a Foundation
There needs to be a foundation for engagement. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to build an engaged team without addressing their most basic needs. Those needs are to know what is expected of them and to have the tools and materials to do their job.
Knowing what is expected goes beyond the basic job description. It applies to how often and in what detail the goals and priorities are defined and communicated.
Not having the proper tools and materials is a huge frustration for employees trying to do their jobs correctly. Ensure people have what they need, when they need it. Two best practices are to implement a Kanban process and a 5S system.
Once the basic needs are met, now it’s time to build momentum. Giving people the opportunity to use their strengths and do what they do best is a huge motivator. Do not make the assumption that skill equals strength. It is possible to be good at a task but to not enjoy it. Ask your employees what they are passionate about to ensure you are assigning the right type of work.
One of the most simplistic but often overlooked way to increase engagement is to give praise and recognition freely. Recognition must be sincere, specific and timely to be the most effective. At the most basic level, say “thank you”!
Showing you care about your employees will also increase their commitment.
People want to feel a part of something and connected to others. Take time to get to know your employees and find what is important to them personally.
Support your team by providing opportunities for development. Give employees meaningful projects and tasks that push them beyond their comfort zone while providing support and guidance as needed. This will build loyalty and show that you trust and believe in your team members.
The most effective way to increase employee engagement is with a plan. This will allow you to focus and get the most value out of your engagement activities.