Is employee engagement all about more pay and perks? Or does our professional happiness have simpler needs? Our guest blogger tackles the trendy topic of employee engagement and shares four simple techniques managers should consistently be doing to help keep top talent within our company.
Jamie Cox is a commercial lines service manager with our Automotive Aftermarket Program based in the Overland Park, KS office. She's sharing her insights into the world of management with four simple employee engagement techniques.
Leaders need to be engaged
by Jamie Cox, commercial lines service manager, Automotive Aftermarket
In the world of a manager, emphasis is often placed on us attracting next level talent – how do we attract the “best of the best"? But while we are trying to figure out the best way to recruit rock stars, or how to make our benefits and environment more attractive, we can lose sight of the employees that are right in front of us. A better question to ask ourselves is, "How do we retain the talent that we have now? What makes them want to keep us around?"
A 2015 Gallup study showed that less than one-third of Americans are actively engaged in their jobs. Actively engaged is defined as employees who are involved in, enthusiastic and committed to their work and workplace.
Additional compensation and added perks are always listed as what keep employees content, but when we really look at the root cause of unhappy employees, we find it's because the leadership team is neglecting engagement basics.
What are the basics of employee engagement? They’re easier than you may think.
Do we provide our employees with a clear vision on where the company is going or how our department contributes to that success? Because when an employee feels that management is keeping something from them, or they don’t understand the direction their department or the company is moving in, they become closed off. If they don’t feel secure, it's natural for them to start to lose trust.
Meaningful interactions and communication
Showing that we are invested in our employees and their development is one way to build trust-based relationships. Another is to have meaningful interactions, which can be as simple as communicating face-to-face, rather than always through email or instant messaging. If at the end of the day your employees don’t know if you were even in the office because they either had no communication with you or only electronic communication – we have an issue.
Once a trusted-based relationship is formed, your employees can feel safe to come to you when they need help. In addition, they are more likely to share with you when they are not getting the assistance that they need. This is all accomplished with consistent meaningful communication.
As managers, we can get so wrapped up in our daily tasks and putting out fires that we sometimes forget to tell our employees, “Good job!” By missing those opportunities, we are neglecting a very important part of being a leader. As an employee, when you receive specific sincere recognition for your accomplishments, you respond to it. It's human nature to react positively to positive reinforcement. If you do something well and receive genuine recognition or praise for a job well done – even once – you gain confidence in your skills.
When we have employees who are doing well, do we continue to challenge them? Or do we have them complete the same tasks over and over again because they can process the item the fastest or with the highest quality?
When we neglect to challenge our top performers, we risk losing them to other opportunities where they will be challenged and provided career growth opportunities. Simple ways to offer them additional challenges is to delegate new tasks to them. Is there a new process coming out or system changes going into effect? Instead of you taking on the task of learning the new process, then teaching it to your team, bring in some of your top performers or performers that are looking for additional responsibilities. You are then allowing the employee to take accountability of learning the process and relaying the information to their peers.
When new items are rolled out and challenges are taken on, do we provide our employees with the necessary training and resources to be successful? If it is a broken process and the challenge for the employee is to come up with an innovative approach to fix the issue, then explain that and be willing to listen when there are road blocks.
As a member of leadership, we are here to lead the employees within the organization. Leadership crosses the boundaries set by reporting structures, office locations and individual departments. As a manager, we are there to manage processes, procedures and reports. What I am challenging myself to do, as well as others within the organization, is to hone our actual leadership skills – this is the part that cannot be done by a robot – this is the part of our job that not only attracts the best talent, but retains it as well.
Contact Jamie if you have questions about her engagement techniques or if you want to share ideas with her.