A project manager compliments a colleague for good work on a project. A manager leader puts an employee in a leadership role for a project. The team takes a day away from work to do volunteer work for a nonprofit organization. The company holds a picnic at a park on a beautiful day.
All these have employees holding their heads higher, smiling and empowering them to achieve more. Not a single one involved money. An engaged workforce will worker harder to navigate bumpy roads and reach goals.
A Gallup survey shows that companies with engaged employees outperform less engaged companies in productivity and profitability. Engaged companies also see lower turnover, absenteeism and safety incidences. Yet, Gallup has found that only 32 percent of the workforce is engaged.
Considering the evidence shows an engaged workforce means greater profitability, why aren’t more employees engaged? Companies are getting better as they’re realizing its benefits as 32 percent is the highest statistic since 2000.
It’s no surprise that what works for one employee may not work for another. It shouldn’t stop you from asking employees what they want to get ideas of what you can do.
Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us, says the carrot and stick approach doesn’t work. He explains the secret to improved performance “is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.”
Here are 10 ways to engage and empower employees.
1. Recognize employees.
This costs nothing and packs a punch in raising morale. Be specific in your praise to employees for solving problems, taking care of customers and meeting deadlines. “You did a great job on that project” doesn’t say much. Try, “I appreciate your being proactive on the project to ensure everything got done on schedule.”
Recognize employees in both one-on-one and group settings. Most people can’t help but get a thrill when receiving recognition in front of their peers.
2. Hold company get-togethers.
Bringing employees together in a relaxing environment allows them feel more connected to the company and each other. You don’t have to spend loads to have a party where everyone has fun. Many folks enjoy playing games in the park or a couple of hours of bowling. While holiday parties are nice, they shouldn’t be the only get-together.
3. Turn everyone into a leader.
Leadership isn’t interchangeable with management. Your best performers are respected leaders because they set an example for others. Show them your appreciation for their getting results and setting high standards for others to follow.
You know that not everyone wants to be a manager. Many thrive on being an individual contributor. Don’t overlook them for leadership development opportunities. It’ll help them improve communication skills and be better team players.
4. Focus on problem solving.
Finger-pointing deflates people’s self-esteem and does the opposite of motivating. Instead, when something goes wrong, ask questions to encourage employees figure out a better way to work through the problem. They’ll learn from the mistake without anyone pointing it out.
5. Provide autonomy.
Daniel Pink says employees need autonomy. This means letting them have the power to decide what to do and how. Instead of telling employees what to do, effective managers clearly communicate expectations and explain why the outcome is important to the company. Step aside and trust employees to work out how to get there.
6. Encourage feedback.
Many ask customers for feedback to make sure they’re happy and to fix whatever problems come up. But do you ask the same of your employees? Yes, it’s a sticky situation because they may fear backlash. How can you improve working conditions without the feedback?
Share a mistake with your employees to show you’re serious about tackling — not attacking — problems, complaints and criticisms. Reassure them that they have no reason to fear retaliation or their jobs. One option is to create an online form that lets them anonymously submit complaints.
7. Volunteer together.
Some companies provide a set number of hours for employees to volunteer during work hours. However, volunteering together can bring the team closer knowing they’re doing good for others. They’re all in this together.
You could also offer your company’s services to nonprofits. Employees gain experience while feeling good about helping nonprofits. What’s more is the company gets a great resource for referrals.
8. Offer profit sharing.
When employees have a stake in the company, they’ll do what they can to ensure the company profits so they benefit.
9. Do coffee or lunch.
Take an employee out for lunch or coffee once a week or once a month for one-on-one time. Ask how things are going and about life outside of work. You could also ask what the team should start, stop and continue doing for more ideas.
10. Allow flexibility for work-life balance.
The amount of flexibility you offer depends on the nature of the job and business. Still, you can support work-life balance without it affecting business. Let employees work from home when there are workers in their house or they can’t drive. Be understanding about family commitments and doctor’s appointments. Employees will find ways to make it up.
If you want to grow your business, start with your employees.
What other ways can you motivate employees? What motivates you?
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