As I discussed in a recent Blog article of mine, many businesses and economic sectors are facing a substantial amount of employee turnover. To counteract this, business organisations, more than ever before, need to focus on cultivating employee engagement. The first question to answer is – What exactly is employee engagement? Research indicates that there are four elements that contribute towards employee engagement – How much an employee feels committed to an organisation, How much an employee identifies with an organisation, How much an employee feels satisfied with their job and How much an employee feels energised at work.
The evidence derived from research is extremely clear. Engaged employees perform better, experience less burnout and stay in business organisations longer. Research shows a number of very important levers managers have at their disposal to boost their employees’ engagement. Let me try and share a few of these levers with you.
Make the work itself less stressful and more enjoyable: Offering employees the flexibility to try new work tasks so they can discover their intrinsic interests has alot of advantages. Whether activities are intrinsically interesting likely depends on the individual employee — in other words, the same activity might spark intrinsic motivation for one employee but not for another. To provide employees the opportunity to determine what sparks their intrinsic interest, consider a job rotation program in which employees move through several positions within a company in a relatively short period of time.
Furthermore it is important to grant employees more autonomy. Autonomy is critical to fostering intrinsic motivation. Do not micromanage but just offer guidance.
Boost employees’ sense of confidence. People tend to avoid work tasks they lack the confidence to complete; thus, confidence is important to encourage employees to initiate new tasks. To enhance employees’ confidence, consider a mentorship programme.
Be Flexible with time: Many employees have been working extra hours to make up for workforce reductions or higher employee turnover. So as an employer your need to be more flexible with time as employees struggle to cope with sustained longer working hours over a period of time. If possible, consider rewarding employees with giving them extra mandatory time off.
Be Innovative – think outside the box: Negotiating advantageous deals for employees that will save them time will be greatly appreciated. These could be related to house cleaning service or meal delivery services. By making it easier and more convenient for employees to invest in these time-saving purchases, employees can dig themselves out of time debt.
Respect their time: Employees work to earn a living and not live to work. Hence employers need to respect their personal time. Some employers even went as far as implementing tools that discourage after-hours emails. This is because employees often report that their email inbox is the largest time drain, so using a tool that allows people to pause the inflow of emails after hours can encourage employees to have more “off” time.
Business leaders and managers are often not aware of what is most important for driving employee engagement. The levers leaders think are most important do not correspond to what is actually most important. The mismatch between what leaders think their employees need versus what they actually need is further evidence that they require guidance on what will work most effectively to engage their employees. Managers must take proactive steps to increase employee engagement, or risk losing their workforce. Given the many potential levers of employee engagement, the challenge for leaders is to understand which levers should be prioritised in their workplace context.