3 steps to creating employee engagement

To understand the value of engagement, consider this: Would you rather have an organization where people show up just to punch the clock, or a place where people are enthusiastic about and committed to their work?

Obviously, this is a no-brainer. Everyone wants an engaged workforce. But most organizations either don’t make it a priority or don’t know how to achieve it. Creating and maintaining an engaged workforce requires taking three steps, which work together to reinforce each other.

Step 1: Inform

The first step involves making sure employees understand the organization’s vision of winning. In particular, management needs to answer four questions that employees are constantly asking inside their heads, but rarely ask out loud:

Where are we going? Employees want to know where the company is headed and what it will take to get there. To answer this question, paint a compelling picture of what winning looks like for your company and constantly communicate it in different ways.

What will it look like when we get there? Describe what the organization will look like once you reach your destination. For example, what kind of workplace culture will you have? What skills, knowledge and abilities will the company have in place? What key operating targets will you have achieved? The more detail you provide about the destination, the better your chances of getting there.

What difference are we making? Most people want a sense of purpose in their jobs. Explain how your company makes a difference with customers, your community and the world at large. Outline the problems you solve for customers and how that makes their lives easier or better.

Why is it important to get there? Employees understand the importance of winning to the organization. They also want to know why it’s important to you. Let them know why you believe in what the company does and why you find the destination so compelling. When people understand why you believe in the destination, it increases their buy-in and commitment.

Step 2: Inspire

In today’s hectic work environment, the day-to-day grind can wear people down. Keeping employees inspired will support their sense of engagement and improve their performance on the job.

Focus on the aspirational components of your goal. Remind people how they’re helping improve the lives of others. Articulate how the destination reflects the unique characteristics of the company and explain how it benefits everyone who works for it.

Share your passion. Talk about what the goals mean to you personally and what excites you about achieving them. Solicit similar input from others and share it via email, on the company intranet and in staff meetings. When people talk about what the goals mean to them individually, it helps create a sense of shared purpose in the organization.

Show people how they are making a difference. Bring the value of your company to life by sharing positive customer feedback in emails, on the company intranet, and with visuals throughout the office. Invite a customer to present at a company meeting. Create a video of customer interviews and share it with everyone.

Celebrate milestones. When individuals or teams achieve interim goals, recognize them publicly. Send thank you notes to those involved. Distribute small rewards like gift cards or movie tickets. Host a recognition event that brings people together in a fun way.

Keep people focused. In the daily struggle to get the product out the door, employees can often lose sight of the big picture. Bring them back into focus by keeping the destination and other components of your strategic plan on everyone’s radar screen. Use visuals everywhere; a visual is the fastest way to prompt the brain.

Step 3: Engage

Informing and inspiring your employees lays the foundation for engagement. Following this checklist can help keep your workforce fully engaged:

• Constantly communicate your vision of winning and why it’s important
• Get great at giving feedback
• Check in with employees throughout the year to measure their progress toward individual and company goals
• Share success stories of how teams are aligned and achieving the goals
• Highlight team accomplishments and link them to the strategy they support
• Create an employee “pledge wall” where people can affirm their commitment by listing one thing they will do differently to support the goals
• Use surveys to measure employee understanding, commitment, inspiration and engagement, and then share the results. (Never use surveys if you don’t plan to respond to them.)

Most of all, let people know you value their opinions by encouraging them to bring up new ideas—even if they challenge the status quo. Publicly thank employees when they raise important issues.


More on this topic: To boost employee engagement, focus on alignment [webinar on demand]

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