2 vital approaches for engaging employees

Soliciting and acting on staff feedback are crucial for sustaining a culture of innovation and collaboration. Leaders at all levels must be accountable for communication and coaching.

2 engagement tactics

Your employees hate you; what are you going to do about it?

Admittedly, hate is a strong word, but it’s also a worthwhile inference, especially when you consider the adage that people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their bosses. Add that to rising turnover rates (hovering around 22 percent) and a highly disengaged workforce, and it’s likely that multiple issues are troubling your employees.

Those issues usually stem from a lack of honest and open communication. Forty percent of workers admit they aren’t confident speaking their mind at work. Another 34 percent said that managers’ ignoring their opinions would cause them to leave their job. Employees feel unheard but aren’t confident or comfortable enough to make a change.

Toxic work environments emerge when managers are silent and checked out; healthy cultures thrive when supervisors are present and communicative.

To ease tensions and manage effectively, leaders should consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In essence, the theory emphasizes humans’ need for safety, security and a sense of belonging above all else. When employees’ basic needs are met, managers can cultivate openness, collaboration and high performance.

A cultural restructuring based on Maslow’s pyramid requires everyone’s effort and participation, but with 33 percent of employees quitting their jobs because of “bad managers,” cultural shifts must begin at the top.

Consider two key tactics:

  • Turn managers into coaches. Feedback is not a threat, but it can feel that way when managers rely on one-way, top-down messaging. Managers must value employees’ internal workings just as much as they value their external performance. Encourage managers to expand conversations beyond tasks and tactical updates to include problem solving and understanding employees as complex people. Once employees know leaders value their thoughts and opinions, they will feel freer to innovate and collaborate.
  • Support HR. Nearly 60 percent of employees feel their company prioritizes profits over people. HR must represent employees’ best interests. When leaders give the HR chief a seat at the table, it helps make managers accountable for bringing out the best in employees.

Honest, open communication bolsters retention and engagement, developing homegrown brand ambassadors and improving customer service, all of which lead to higher revenue.

Shane Metcalf is co-founder and chief culture officer of 15Five.

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