By: Caitlin Gibson
When employees are engaged at work, it’s obvious; their commitment can be measured in numerous ways, from the level of effort with which individuals approach their work, to the success of a desired business outcome.
What’s less obvious is the role managers play in encouraging employee engagement. More than anyone else, managers are best positioned to help employees stay energized, committed, and connected to the company and improve employee satisfaction.
Here are fifteen ways managers can boost employee engagement, without straining the budget or investing inordinate amounts of time.
1. Clearly communicate what employees can expect from you.
Share this via email, so team members can save it for future reference. Document things like what business hours you keep, how quickly you’ll respond to emails, your preferred communication method (e.g. instant message, email, or in-person chats), and what expectations you have for your team. If nothing else, committing to responding to emails within 24 hours is a guaranteed way to increase employee engagement and improve employee experience. You can also send out an employee engagement survey to find where there might be room for improvement.
2. Track individual accomplishments and initiatives.
You can use a spreadsheet, an employee communication software or keep it old school and go the paper route. Whichever method you choose, you’ll have a clear window into how each employee’s doing, what’s working, and what’s not. You’ll be able to see how well-rounded everyone’s experience is and where individuals have room to grow. With this insight, you can match your employees to appropriately challenging opportunities that will create a more engaged workforce that are dedicated to the company’s success, as well as their own.
3. Hold regular one-on-ones with a set agenda.
Use these informal conversations to make your employees feel seen and heard. Commend recent achievements, check in on their goals, and identify which challenges they’re facing so you can collectively decide on the best way to champion their development. To make these sessions even more special, consider hosting them at your employee’s favorite local coffee shop.
4. Ask for employees feedback on your performance and adjust accordingly.
This shows your employees that you want to improve their experience at work, so keep an open mind when team members offer feedback. If you’re not sure how to act on something they’ve said, connect with your own manager for tips on how to improve, and keep the feedback loop active and open.
5. Host weekly team meetings.
Employees whose managers hold regular meetings are three times as likely to be engaged at work. Make each session meaningful with a little prep work. The day before you meet, ask if anyone wants to add an item to the agenda, giving everyone a stake in the meeting. Send out the agenda in advance, and stick to it when it’s time to meet.
6. Relay important company updates when they’re available and cleared to share.
Dedicate a small portion of your weekly team meetings to utilize some successful employee engagement strategies, or pass information along via email once it’s available. As you share updates, indicate how they’ll impact everyone’s day-to-day responsibilities, if applicable. When employees know and understand company-wide priorities, they’re 51 times more likely to be engaged at work.
7. Schedule a monthly team lunch on the company.
Try to avoid talking about business during this time. Instead, find out what your employees care about outside of work, discover interests and passion projects, and learn more about what motivates and inspires them. A complimentary lunch and a quality conversation can go a long way in making your team members feel valued.
8. Champion your employee’s goals.
Employees whose managers helps them set performance goals are 17 times more likely to be engaged at work. Leverage the company’s performance management process if one exists, or find a talent management system that works for you and each individual employee.
9. Set aside time each week to celebrate individual wins as a group.
Schedule these celebrations outside of your weekly team meeting if possible. Before giving kudos, be sure to ask each of your employees how they prefer to receive recognition. Some folks appreciate being publicly celebrated; others prefer to avoid the spotlight and might value a private message or thank you card.
10. Connect your employees with development opportunities inside and outside of work.
Is there a conference coming to town or a networking event coming up that complements one of your employee’s goals or career aspirations? Let them know about it. If there’s someone in your network who’d make a great mentor for an employee on your team, introduce them via email and encourage them to meet up for coffee.
11. Prioritize your own work-life blend.
Your employees will take their cue from you. If you consistently respond to emails late at night, your team members will think they should do that, too. This type of behavior might seem like admirable dedication, but it can quickly lead to burnout and negatively impact engagement. Work sustainably and not at the cost of your physical, mental, or emotional well-being, and your employees will model their approach after yours. This creates a positive company culture that values work life balance.
12. Encourage volunteerism.
77 percent of employees says volunteer opportunities are essential to their well-being. Carve out a few hours once a quarter to volunteer as a team, and/or point individuals toward fulfilling service opportunities that align with their interests. You’ll boost morale and further develop each employee’s sense of purpose at work.
13. Take a coaching approach.
Rather than simply having someone to report to, employees want to be advised and mentored by their manager. When you make frequent and effective coaching part of your managerial style, you’ll not only keep your team engaged; you can increase business results by up to 21 percent.
14. Set up cross-functional job shadow opportunities.
This can be as simple as pairing one of your direct reports with someone in another department for a day. By better understanding someone else’s role, your employees are more likely to appreciate their own impact on the team and the company as a whole, better connecting them to their work and underscoring their purpose.
15. Be engaged yourself.
Employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59 percent more likely to be engaged themselves. Identify what motivates you, set your own goals and objectives, and seek out new opportunities to grow with the company.
From this list of strategies, pick a few that you can implement right away. You will not only improve employee engagement; you’ll be more connected to your team and more likely to appreciate your own experience at work.