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  • Writer's picturePeter Geh

How to Increase Employee Engagement - Most Employees aren't Giving you their Best Effort!

Updated: Feb 7

I think all business owners can agree that it's crazy times in terms of hiring and human resources. The labour shortage is bad and it's hitting all industries hard, and unfortunately, the situation doesn't seem to be getting better in a hurry. The news that there's a labour shortage isn't new and many businesses are already coming up with strategies to attract new talent, however, the problem is that employee poaching and employee turnover is also on the rise. As a fractional CFO working with small and medium sized businesses, I'm finding that many aren't focused on this issue and may only focus there after it's too late.

Employees aren't Giving you their Best Effort and that Sucks

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is your number 1 way to help avoid employee poaching and undesired employee turnover. Employee engagement was huge like 10 years ago and in my opinion, over blown and totally over done. Many people got sick of hearing about it or dealing with bloated ways to measure, track and boast engagement. As a result, many businesses started to do less and less in terms of employee engagement and now we are faced with this incredible stat that 85% of employees are either very unengaged or somewhat unengaged at work. This means these employees aren't giving you their best effort, each and every day which frankly sucks. To combat this and get your business ready for the increasing wave of employee turnover, I've come up with a list of simple things and reminders to keep engagement high.

Oh and by the way, want to read more about the stats on employee engagement? Check out the great work put together by Gallup HERE.

Simple Ways to Increase Employee Engagement

1) Actually do a Good Job with your Performance Reviews

Nothing breaks down employee engagement faster than doing a poor job with performance reviews. We all know feedback is so important but often, the process is done poorly, not enough time and attention is put towards it, or worst of all, employees feel that it's not all that important to owners and managers. I recommend you adopt a streamlined, lightweight process so you actually get them done in a timely, thorough manner.

2) Have Regular, Team Wide Company Updates

Employees want to feel that they are part of a team pulling towards a larger common goal. However, without regular whole team meetings where important stuff like company direction is discussed, employees feel like a passenger on a ship but they don't really know where it's going. I recommend you hold meetings at least quarterly, this will certainly boast engagement.

3) Quit Sending Out "Engagement Surveys" or Similar

Based on the work noted above by Gallup, the cats out of the bag, engagement isn't great at a lot of workplaces. I think you should automatically assume that there's more you can do in terms of employee engagement, there's no need to send a survey to measure that. However, organizations still send them out hoping that just maybe, they are one of the unicorns out there with extremely high engagement. Honestly, you should be able to tell without the survey. Instead, focus on actions that will start to make a difference regarding employee engagement, rather than spending time and money on measuring.

4) Make Sure Employees have Opportunities to Grow

The days where employees stay at 1, 2 or even 3 workplaces for their entire careers are long gone; however, you should still try to keep quality employees for as long as possible. This is done by ensuring that they always have something to learn or new opportunities. New things don't have to happen all the time but new experiences, new things to work on, etc go a long way to keeping engagement up. Don't treat your employees like furniture, they are going to be gone before you know it.

5) Make sure that Employees feel that their Voices are Heard

What's that famous Steve Job's quote again? Oh yea, here goes, "It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do". Ok, so it doesn't make sense to let employees tell you what to do all of the time, however, employees likely have great insights, suggestions and ideas. To increase employee engagement, and frankly improve operations, make sure you encourage employees to speak up. Equally important is making sure that you politely and open mindedly consider everyone's input, your engagement is going to drop through the floor if you don't value the input.

6) Give your Employees Meaningful Work and Keep them Busy

Can you imagine doing the same thing, day in and day out, over and over again? No, neither can I, that certainly isn't the spice of life. So I wonder why so many employers expect this from their employees. Even the most redundant jobs can have at least some variety built into them. Furthermore, make sure your employee roles are clearly defined and work is always available. You wouldn't believe how engagement suffers when employees don't feel "busy" (not over worked, but busy!).

7) Check In from Time to Time

Good owners and managers check in with their employees. The feedback you can glean is invaluable. However, we all get busy and check ins often are the first thing to get pushed back. I encourage you to NOT let that happen and make them a priority. Remember, 85% of your workforce isn't working at it's best, what on earth are you doing that's more important than make sure you are getting the most out of your employees?

8) Review your Pay Scales

Money is not the answer to employee engagement. If you suck at everything I've noted above, paying employees more than your competitors isn't going to save you from terrible employee turnover. However, if you are underpaying your employees, or they feel that way, no matter what you do, you are never going to get great engagement. Inflation is up and costs are increasing for everything. I recommend you review your wages to make sure they are fair. If you feel like you can't afford higher wages, perhaps see about raising your prices to boast your margins. Your competitors are likely doing this so you need to think about it as well.


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