How To Boost Employee Engagement In 30 Days
The bad news is that, globally, only 11% of employees are actively engaged (Gallup, 2012). That means just better than one in 10 employees exerts discretionary effort to “wow” customers, generate innovative ideas, accelerate a change, and/or go the extra mile to help out a member of their team.
The good news is that there are simple strategies that have been proven to boost employee engagement. Sadly, most leaders don’t know what to do to boost engagement. That’s where you come in, you masterful engagement guru, you! Tell them about the 30-day engagement booster challenge.
30-day Engagement Booster Challenge:
- Share the 7 strategies in this post with leaders and teams who measure employee engagement, and who you suspect may not be maximizing their investment in engagement;
- Commit to using at least one of the seven strategies below per day for 30 days;
- On day 31, have the leaders pull out their most recent engagement scores and share them with their team. And, this is the cool part, ask the team, “If we were to take this survey today, how would our results compare (i.e., higher, lower, or about the same)?”
- Report back with comments to share your success stories or challenges along the way.
The 7 Strategies to Boost Employee Engagement
These strategies are backed by trustworthy research and they really do work. Empower those leading people in your organization (or those you serve) with these simple strategies, hold them accountable for using at least one per day for 30 days, and share your results with me.
#1. Do Something With Your Survey Data.
There is nothing more condescending than asking employees for their opinion and then doing nothing in response. My clients often ask me why their response rates to engagement surveys are low. My first question for them is, “What improvements did you make to the organization based on the results from the last survey?” If they can’t answer that, then I know we have a larger problem than response rates on our hands.
Share the data. Explain what the data mean. Have someone facilitate a focus group for you around the data. Conduct interviews with employees to get at the root cause of problematic items. Connect organizational actions to survey results. Create a network of engagement ambassadors to help inquire about and boost engagement. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
#2. Create a Feedback Friendly Culture
Manager feedback and peer feedback are powerful drivers of engagement. An engaged, trusting, high performing team provides each of its members with positive and constructive feedback on a continuous basis. If it feels weird to give feedback, then you’re not giving it often enough.
Offer informal feedback to your team as a whole. Start by “catching” employees doing something well. Set the tone for a feedback friendly culture by asking your team to provide you with feedback about a specific question that you have or a behavior that you would be willing to change. One of the most powerful questions you can ask an employee is, “What do you think?” and then act on it.
#3. Offer Recognition and Appreciation
Employees like to receive recognition in different ways. Ask your employees how they like to be recognized for a job well done: verbally, in writing, publicly, or privately? Find out what recognition looks like on an individual- and team-basis and then start recognizing those continuous improvements that the LEAN and Six Sigma people keep encouraging.
#4. Engage in Extra-Ordinary Communication
Sadly, effective interpersonal communication is becoming the exception rather than the norm in organizations. Try engaging in some extra-ordinary communication with your team. Share something about yourself that employees may not know, but would like to. Create space for people to get to know one another on a personal level. What are their likes and hobbies? What do people do on the weekends and holidays? What’s the most exotic place a member of the team has travelled to? What’s the weirdest thing people have eaten? If your employees could have dinner with any celebrity, dead or alive, who would it be and why? Making time for the personal stuff pays big dividends in the trust and engagement department.
#5. Build Trust
Trust = Consistency + Competence + Sincerity. Be consistent. Be competent. Be sincere. People will go the extra mile if they trust you.
#6. Involve Employees in Decisions
Some people will be more likely to support decisions that they have input into. Some people will only support decisions that they have input into. Consult your team about a decision that has the potential to impact their work or their customers. Be clear about what you’re doing and set expectations around how you intend to use their input. Thank people for their input and follow up once a decision has been made (see number 5).
#7. Remove Barriers
Engaging leaders hire the right people, remove barriers to their success, and then get out of the way. Ask your employees what opportunities or barriers exist that, if removed, would help them be even more effective in their role. Then do whatever you can to attempt to remove those barriers or capitalize on those opportunities. Be transparent about what you can and cannot change. Help employees help themselves. There’s nothing more disengaging than knowing that there’s a problem and having a manager who doesn’t give a rip. Removing barriers and connecting that to engagement is a real booster.
So, those are seven, low-cost, high value strategies for boosting employee engagement. There is good science behind these simple strategies, and I want to hear about success stories from the 30 day challenge! While engagement isn’t a magic bullet for organizational success, it can be a powerful lever if treated with discipline, rigor, and respect.