8 steps for improving employee engagement

Staff morale directly affects productivity. Training, culture fit, autonomy—and even free coffee—are key elements of how your people approach each workday and collaboration overall.

8 engagement tips

Americans log more than eight hours a day at work—more than we sleep each night.

That means that we spend more waking time interacting with our colleagues than with our families, so our co-workers are have significant sway over our mood and productivity.

That influence is a boon when teammates are optimistic and motivated, but when they’re in a lousy mood or unmotivated, it can be disruptive, even destructive, to the entire workforce.

You can counter negative vibes by doing the following eight things to boost productivity:

1. Improve cultural fit.

To start right, recruit people who align with your company’s culture.

Keith Tatley, founder of Manager Foundation, writes for RecruitLoop:

While on the surface cultural fit may not seem like a critical factor in the hiring process, it is arguably one of the most essential criteria of selection. Employees who do not fit in with your culture negatively affect those around them.

Zappos applies this approach with its Family Core Values, making the hiring process more of a courtship. Potential employees must pass the “nice guy” test.

They also complete the service test and the ultimate test in which new employees are offered $3,000 to quit. That may sound silly, but those not committed to the company’s values will take the money and run.

2. Train, train, and retain.

If your workers are lost or confused, how can they be productive?

When you hire, you must clearly define new employees’ roles and responsibilities and provide appropriate training. That should be perpetual training, providing frequent opportunities for them to enhance or develop skills to make them more productive and encourage them to stay with your company.

3. Encourage autonomy.

Studies have found that encouraging ownership drives employee motivation. How can you promote autonomy?

  • Explain why the work your employees are doing is essential.
  • Give your team opportunities to share feedback and opinions.
  • Let your employees decide how they want to solve a problem or complete a task.
  • Build trust among your employees.
  • Hold them accountable.
  • Delegate effectively.
  • Provide frequent feedback.
  • Allow your employees to share their strengths and talents.
  • Give them the tools and resources needed to succeed.
  • Use mistakes as a learning opportunity.

4. Optimize the workplace.

Try these approaches, which can also help your bottom line:

  • Provide ample lighting so people aren’t straining their eyes. Let in as much natural light as possible.
  • Invest in standing desks and ergonomic chairs, and encourage everyone to tidy up their workplaces.
  • Reduce noise. The German Association of Engineers states that 70 decibels is an acceptable volume for carrying out necessary, transactional office-based work.
  • Provide healthy snacks that boost brain power.
  • Offer a restful space, an oasis for employees to meditate or exercise. Such breaks improve energy, focus and creativity. Instead or in addition, offer discounts for gym memberships.

5. Celebrate the small wins.

Applauding even minor victories lets employees know they are progressing; that boosts performance and productivity.

“Everyone likes to be recognized for something positive they’ve done, whether it’s big or small. However, despite size, every success should be celebrated,” writes Rose Leadem.  She adds that when “employees know they are progressing at work in some way, even if it is just the slightest bit, they will, in turn, be happier, more motivated and continue to keep up the great performance.”

6. Let employees work remotely.

Various studies have found that remote workers are often more productive. They take fewer sick days, aren’t as stressed, have better morale and log more hours. Also, telecommuters don’t have to deal with distractions like office noise and impromptu meetings.

They can schedule their days so they work when they’re more productive. Because they’re cutting out the daily commute, they generally work more hours.

Your business will also enjoy the cost savings of a smaller workplace and lower utilities.

7. Offer great perks.

You must pay your employees a competitive wage, but perks are often more motivating than financial compensation.

Perks can include:

  • Career advancement opportunities
  • Health, dental and vision plans
  • Free refreshments and snacks in your breakroom
  • Wellness and child care programs
  • Discounts from other businesses
  • Team-building exercises and social events
  • Eliminating micromanaging and showing employees that they’re appreciated

8. Consistently measure employee activity and productivity.

Track relevant metrics by recording the use of websites and applications, as well as using time-tracking tools. There are also productivity-measuring tools so you can monitor, manage and streamline projects.

John Rampton is founder and CEO of Calendar. A version of this post first appeared on Calendar’s blog.


One Response to “8 steps for improving employee engagement”

    Shannon says:

    I like the list, but I’d also add transparent communication – employees who understand what’s happening around them will be far more engaged than those who don’t!

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