It was my first week with the company. I innocently stepped into the corridor to get coffee, as the clock struck 17:00 and I was almost trampled by employees racing for their cars to go home.
They had been watching the minutes ticking by, their computers shut down and their coats on, waiting for the point when they could spring into action and fly out of the door.
Does this sound familiar?
Going home on time isn’t a bad thing. But if your employees rush to get out of the door every day they likely lack engagement. They don’t have a real connection with your business – it’s “just a job”.
Engaged employees share the vision of the business, are enthusiastic, motivated, want to see your customers satisfied and your business succeed. They will go the extra mile for their company and are much less likely to change jobs.
If you want your employees to have an emotional connection with your business, you need to help them build it.
Follow these five steps and you’ll build employee engagement (and your office corridor at 5pm will be a safer place).
1. Share your vision
Whether you’re the CEO of a large company or you’ve just hired your first employee, sharing your vision is vital. Don’t just give your employees superficial speeches. Take the time to really explain where you are taking the business and how your employees can help you achieve the next goals.
2. Share the targets
If you can’t see the target you have nothing to aim at. Set clear targets for your business and share them with everyone involved. Be specific with the targets, for example your monthly sales or cost savings. If you share the targets you share the work required to achieve them. Break your targets into chunks so that every department, team and individual employee understands the part they play in the business’s road to success.
3. Share the results
Once you’ve shared the target you need to regularly share the results. Results help motivate employees by showing progress and improvement. Lack of sharing regular results causes disengagement with your vision. By all means, use technology such as “data dashboards”, but never let your technology get in the way of sharing the results. A daily handwritten whiteboard with yesterday’s sales figures will work just as well and will give employees focus and an opportunity to ask questions. But don’t overwhelm employees with information. Only show the results that are relevant.
4. Share ideas
Create an environment where it’s positive to share and invite ideas for improvements. Remove any fear of saying something wrong. Talk candidly about processes and problems which are preventing the business from reaching targets. Ask the people who do the job how it could be improved – often the employees doing the job have much greater insight than those managing them.
5. Share the benefits
If you share the work you should share the benefits. You can do this in two ways:
- Anticipated Benefits: Create a formal benefit system where every employee has a part of their salary based on a benefit system. Build a bonus amount into your annual target, such as fifteen percent of employee’s salary, and pay it if you hit your targets. Yes, it sounds ambitious but it’s no good setting targets if they are too easy.
- Surprise Benefits: Have an occasional lunch of pizza and beer to reward hard work, and take the company out to dinner once a month if you hit monthly sales targets. Both examples are incredibly powerful in engaging employees and the social element helps break down barriers, especially when bringing together field and office based teams. Pick an employee to organise the event and use the opportunity to celebrate your results.
If you want engaged, motivated employees, who pull together as a team, you need to invite them to join you in becoming partners in your business’ success. Share vision, targets, results and ideas so you can all share in the benefits.
Robert Peters is a Small Business Advisor and owner of Fresh Eyes Consultancy.
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