Employee productivity determines the success and sustainability of businesses. Senior management and business owners constantly devise new and better policies and practices to improve employee performance. But despite the sincere and high-octane efforts, most employee satisfaction surveys throw up depressing numbers. The latest Gallup survey spanning 142 countries found that only 13% of the global workforce is engaged at work. 63% is not engaged and 24% is actively disengaged. North America fares quite badly with 70% employees feeling miserable and disengaged at work. So if more than ¾ of your employees feel unhappy at work, how do you manage to run a successful business? And if businesses are failing how will the economy remain in a good shape? Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands and Norway report the best levels of employee satisfaction. They also hold the top rankings in the UN World Happiness Report. Exemplary work-life balance, social support and involvement, comprehensive welfare policies, crime-free environment and pro-active governments work in tandem to improve all aspects of well-being in these countries. Employee morale depends on several and complex factors. Economic incentive is important, but it is not all that matters to your workforce. Let’s look at the determining factors that affect employee engagement. #1. Hire the Right Employees This may seem like stating the obvious, but hiring the right employees is critical to ensuring long-term productivity and performance. In addition to relevant qualifications and experience, ensure your new hires are a good fit with the organizational culture. Team synergy also matters. Ensure the employees fit into their new teams and work in sync with the rest. An employee who hasn’t got the aptitude or the attitude for the job he’s been hired for may not enjoy it, which may adversely affect the morale of the entire team. Enthusiasm and happiness are infectious, but so is negativity. #2. Have an Employee Engagement Strategy in Place The Gallup survey cited above also found that 90% of the employers recognized the significance of an employee engagement strategy, but that only 25% actually put one in place. Motivational programs and engagement initiatives are not a waste of money. They do translate into positive financial gains for organizations in the long run. It is extremely important you include relevant and timely feedback, quality and consistent training, and effective rotational practices in your employee engagement strategy. Timely Feedback– Constructive feedback helps engage employees better. They are prompted to think of ways to improve at work. Encourage them to be creative. This will make mundane and routine tasks interesting. Empower your employees to tailor their schedules and processes in a way that produces best results. Independence also contributes to a higher level of employee engagement. Consistent Training– Customized training programs help improve and hone the skills and talents of employees. They also support better and more efficient output from your workforce. Rotate and Rejuvenate – Even you stellar employee may feel bored and listless if he is performing the same tasks day in and day out. Find out his areas of interest and provide him with opportunities to work on challenging projects, off-shore assignments, or be a part of cross-functional teams. This will provide the spark that was sorely missing in his work-life. #3. Economic Incentives Economic incentives are usually the prerogative of the senior management. But realize that when extra efforts result in extra earnings, your employees may find that motivating and encouraging. Most organizations stay away from doling out financial incentives to employees due to the huge costs involved. But if you have a proper and effective plan in place, this will not be difficult. Incentives should be tied to measurable, quantifiable and achievable targets. The incentive policy should be transparent, fair and clearly communicated to the employee. This will fire up your best team, as well as the average employee, to stretch their limits. If your business is new, performance-linked incentives will definitely improve your bottom line. Make sure you retain good performers and reward, recognize and motivate them to perform even better. #4. Managers Matter A better salary alone may not drive your best employee to your competitor. Studies reveal that a co-operative boss, cordial co-workers, an encouraging senior management, and recognition at work affect employee morale deeply. So make sure your office dynamics are good to retain your best talent. #5. New Learning and Opportunities A secure job environment that allows for better and learning opportunities is essential for employee satisfaction. A long-term and well-defined career path is extremely motivating to a middle-level employee. It promises him economic as well as career and job stability. Ensure you communicate this well to your new hires. This will set the ball rolling from the first day itself as far as their productivity is concerned. #6. Be Genuinely Interested in Employee Welfare Your employees work so they are able to provide a better life to their families. Recognize and respect this fact. Family care initiative like in-house child care, paid leaves for tending to ailing family members and flexible work options ease stress and tension in the lives of employees. You may also team up with service providers and offer discount coupons to local cinemas, restaurants or bowling alleys. If your employees are working late night to meet deadlines, ensure they don’t go hungry. Get a popular restaurant to provide meals as per their choice and you will be left with a contented and hardworking team. Companies that regularly feature in ‘the best companies to work for’ list have great employee welfare initiatives like family health benefits, on-site gym and recreational facilities, paid sabbaticals and educational scholarships in place. #7. Improve the Health of Your Employees The health of employees directly affects their productivity. Healthy workers are able to concentrate and contribute well at the workplace. Conduct awareness programs to deter employees from harmful lifestyle habits like smoking, consuming excessive alcohol, or abusing drugs. E-cigarettes diminish the harmful effects of tobacco a great deal. You may encourage employees to give up tobacco and choose the healthier alternative at workplace. E-cigarettes will help your employees in their effort to reduce nicotine dependence. Establish self-help groups to help employees deal with alcoholism and drug abuse. You can keep the interactions private and involve their families as well. Conclusion Optimistic, satisfied and healthy workers ensure a thriving business. Proper measures and sincere efforts will definitely help you make your employees a part of the engaged 30% of the American working population. Images: ”Productivity Word Pulled Team Improving Output Results Together/ Shutterstock.com“ __________________________________________________________________________________ Connect with Tweak Your Biz: Would you like to write for Tweak Your Biz? Tweak Your Biz is an international, business advice community and online publication. Today it is read by over 140,000 business people each month (unique visitors, Google Analytics, December, 2013). See our review of 2013 for more information. An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. 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