Seven Keys to Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is something CEOs and managers strive for. We’ve all read the articles on how happy employees are the most productive employees, so most of us have taken certain steps to try to achieve this. But are they the right steps, and are we targeting the right employees?

A recent Gallup study on the topic uncovered that unengaged employees outnumber their engaged coworkers 2:1. To dig a little deeper, Gallup peeled back the onion in 32 exemplary companies and found out what really matters to employees and what doesn’t.

The 32 companies they looked at ranged from the healthcare industry to financial services, hospitality, manufacturing, and retail. They contrasted these businesses—whose employee engagement factor was an astounding 9:1—with similar workplaces facing uphill battles with their workforce. Gallup was able to identify seven areas critical to motivation and involvement, and suggest that they could be the key.

1. Involved and curious leaders. No one likes a “do as I say, not as I do” style manager. The most effective and inspiring leaders are not afraid to show vulnerability and admit that they too can improve. It’s a bit like parenting; modeling the behavior you want to see in your employees is the best way to influence them. Your team’s culture is shaped by your attitude and behavior, so stay connected and open with your team and work on your own continual improvement alongside them.

2. Having a top-notch HR department. A great HR team knows how to keep executives accountable and help them develop employees. Not every manager is a natural leader, and an experienced, talented HR professional can teach managers how to improve their own performance as well as recognize and cultivate their employees’ skills.

3. Meet employees’ basic needs. In other words: A mission statement is not enough. If your workers don’t understand what is expected of of them, have what they need to perform their jobs, or are not suited for their position, they will ultimately fail. Make sure you have prepared each and every member of your team with everything they need to do their jobs well, and be sure you have buttoned-up hiring and onboarding practices.

4. Don’t blame the economy. The best companies keep their culture and their employee engagement intact no matter what the news reports say. This doesn’t mean change won’t affect your business; it means that change doesn’t derail your business. When the economy takes a downturn, one thing you can always do is stay open and positive with your employees.

5. Let your ecosystems flourish. Trust and hold accountable your managers and their teams. Let them solve problems and enjoy success together without your interference, but with your full support.

6. Recognize excellence. Workplaces that celebrate and reward success have much higher degrees of employee engagement. Recognition for a job well done motivates and inspires not only the recipient, but his or her colleagues. No one is inspired to do better when there is no appreciation for their current efforts.

7.Keep your eye on the ball. You need your employees to be engaged in order for your business to truly succeed. The metrics only matter if they result in low turnover and a dedicated staff. Don’t pursue engagement techniques without this goal in mind.

Take these seven pearls of wisdom gleaned from companies who use them, and make them a part of your employee engagement plan.