‘Employee Engagement strategies’ is one of the top three most Googled employee engagement search terms. I have four powerful strategies to re-engage employees.
The importance of getting the right person in every chair
Who you hire and who you fire. Why? Because when you get this right, you increase trust in leadership and the emotional connection that employees feel to your organization.
In order for your company to have an engaged workforce and truly succeed, you must have the right person in every chair. No exceptions. This means you must hire people who have the skills to do the job and whose individual values are aligned with your company’s values. Why? Because when an employee’s values are aligned with your company’s values, the employee will feel an emotional connection to your organization, which is half of the employee engagement equation. The other half is trust in senior leaders.
Where do you begin? Direct every recruiter and hiring manager to use what I call a Standard Interview Template when speaking with job candidates. This template is important because it ensures that your screeners are asking the same questions when interviewing people for your open positions. The template should include questions that enable the job candidate to cite specific examples of how they live your organization’s values and why those values are important to them individually. Having a job candidate tell you, “Yes, I’m innovative,” is not enough. In order for them to ‘make the grade,’ they must be able to share specifics.
But getting the right person in every chair does not stop at hiring for values. You must also face your rotten egg employees head-on. The moment you notice a person on your team who is under-performing, who has a toxic attitude, or who is a weak manager, address it. Have a conversation with the person about what you are observing and, together, develop a plan for the individual to improve.
The goal is always to help the employee develop and grow, so he/she does not have to be removed from the organization, but sometimes that’s simply not possible. Sometimes we hire rotten eggs, and nothing we do is going to turn the situation around. If you are facing this situation and have exhausted all avenues with an individual, I encourage you to remove them from your organization. Why? Because as you are creating an extraordinary culture on one end, you can’t afford to have employees chipping away at it on the other end.
In addition, there is nothing more demoralizing to employees than a management team who allows a person to stay who is not pulling their weight, who has a toxic attitude, or who can’t effectively manage others. Regardless of the person’s issue, this behavior is like a cancer and negatively impacts your engaged workers. When you don’t act on your rotten eggs, every employee around the person knows they don’t belong there and is thinking, “Why aren’t leaders doing anything about this?” And in that moment you are chipping away at the trust your engaged workers have in leaders.
Finally, the importance of getting the right person in every chair is magnified when we look at the financial implications, as the cost of turnover is enormous. According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, for an employee salaried at $60,000, it will cost the company anywhere from $30,000 to $45,000 to hire and train a replacement.
Bottomline, hire for both a values match and a skills match, and if you have a person who is underperforming, develop them or move them out. In order to create an extraordinary workplace, where people are engaged, every seat must be filled with the best and brightest talent. Are you there?
The importance of ensuring that your employees have individual goals that align with the CEOs. The importance of ensuring that your employees have individual goals that align with the CEOs. Why? Because when you get this right, you increase trust in leadership and the emotional connection that employees feel to your organization.
Engagement increases when employees see a line of sight between what they do day to day and the company’s goals. People want to know that they are adding value and making a difference. To ensure employees see that what they do every day matters, embrace and roll out Goal Alignment.
Goal Alignment involves ensuring that every person in your organization from top to bottom is doing work that supports the organization’s goals. It involves getting everyone to march in the same direction and it ensures that no one is doing work that is not adding value. How does Goal Alignment work?
The organization’s goals are set by the CEO and cascaded down to each level of employees. When this process is complete, every employee in the organization has goals that support their chain of command all the way up to the CEO, and that support the organization’s goals. This is how you ensure employees see a line of sight between what they do every day and the organization’s success; this is how you engage a workforce.
Goal Alignment should be established three months prior to the start of your fiscal year and it is fluid. If there is a major event during the year that necessitates your organization moving in a different direction, then goals must be rewritten at all levels.
In addition, checking progress toward goals once a year will not create an engaged workforce and ensure employees are on track to meet or exceed objectives. Monthly or quarterly checkpoints need to occur between managers and employees, so employees are reminded that what they do day-to-day directly impacts the organization’s success.
Frequent check-ins also enable employees to make course corrections in real time if they are off track. To that end, encourage managers to give employees informal feedback in the moment and have a conversation with the worker when he/she is doing something well or poorly.
Goal alignment is important because it not only ensures that employees see a line of sight between what they do every day and the organization’s success, but it also makes employees feel like they are making a difference and doing meaningful work, which benefits both employees, customers, and your bottom line.
Building a two-way communication culture.
Why? Because when you get this right, you increase trust in leadership and the emotional connection that employees feel to your organization. In order to engage employees, you must be open, honest and transparent, and communicate often. Employees are smart. They know when something is wrong and it’s not being shared, and they become suspect when the only news they hear is good news. When sharing negative news, you can soften the impact by providing context and letting employees know your plan to ensure the event does not occur again.
Additionally, when you communicate that you are going to do something, you must do it. Your words mean the world to employees; they hang on them and are counting on you to be accountable and follow through. When you communicate openly, honestly and often; share both positive and negative news; and follow through on your word, you will build trust in leadership, which leads to employee engagement.
In addition to being open, honest and transparent, you also must seek out your employee’s ideas, opinions and concerns, and engage them in a two-way dialogue. Employees don’t want to be spoken to; they want to be spoken with. When they are spoken with and heard – when they know they have a voice – they will be engaged. Also, by acknowledging the feedback you hear from employees, you will encourage them to continue speaking up, which is a good thing.
Some ideas to increase two-way communication in your organization between leaders and employees include:
- Employee Town Hall Meetings Led by Frontline Managers & Leaders
- ‘Lunch with Lori” or “Breakfast with Bob”
- Employee Focus Groups which focus on fixing a broken process identified by employees
- Process Improvement Employee Suggestion Program
- Appoint an Ombudsman – a “safe” person who employees can speak with as you are building a culture where it’s safe to speak up
- Morning and End-of-Day Team Huddle to share important information and recognize accomplishments
- App that enables employees to receive communications from senior leaders on their Smartphone and comment
- TweetUp live chat led by the CEO.
Why? Because when you get this right, you increase trust in leadership and the emotional connection that employees feel to your organization.
Reward and recognition programs created to motivate employees actually have an overall deficit in employee motivation. If you only reward high performers or if you reward everyone regardless of their results, many are left feeling punished.
There is nothing more effective in the workplace than a sincere “thank you” for a job well done. People want to be acknowledged and feel appreciated … it’s one of the greatest human needs and it will re-engage your employees.
Do employees like organization-branded swag? Yes. However, an organization-branded coffee mug is not going to make an employee trust leaders and feel an emotional commitment to your company; feeling acknowledged and appreciated will.
Give away all the organization-branded coffee mugs you like once you have a recognition program in place that engages employees. Employees value the appreciation and admiration of colleagues and superiors, and want recognition for their good work. Therefore, your recognition program must enable any employee to recognize any other employee.
In addition, the recognition must be timely, sincere, and include specific information about what behaviors or actions are being rewarded.
Some ideas for your employee recognition program include:
- Thank You Cards that list your Values and enable a person to check the Value the recipient demonstrated. When a person gives away a card, their name is put in a Lunch drawing.
- “Wall of Fame” or “Wall of Honor” Wall where you post your Values Thank You Cards
- Take your entire team off-site to work
- Rotating trophy
- Begin every meeting and daily huddle with recognition
- Standing ovation as a new hire leaves the office their first day
- Celebrate every project completion
- Company recognition day or once a month dedicate a day to recognize an a department or business unit
- Leave a gift card and a hand-written thank you note or Post-It on an employee’s chair
- Spot bonuses for major accomplishments
- Shout out on Social Media
- Conduct Random Acts of Fun
- Gamification tools that offer points and badges for great work.