4 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement

Posted on October 11, 2012.

My father use to always say,” You’re lucky if 20% of the managers you work for are good at what they do”.  Turns out, he overshot it.  According to a recent Orion Partners study found in Management Today, less than 5% of employees have faith in their bosses’ leadership. Is it any wonder employee engagement is at record lows?

The reality is that you can blame a lot the “company “, but when it comes to employees wanting to come in every day and give 100%, it all on you- the manager.  So finding ways to make them feel more engaged is your responsibility. Try this:

1.    Be transparent.  Employees want to know more than just their job. They want to know if their contribution is having an impact. They want to know numbers, good or bad.  How would you like to be on a basketball team and not know the plays, the team ranking or the score? Why should your work team be any different?

2.     Use the carrot, not the stick. According to the Orion study, 47% of employees felt threatened by their boss. Instead of feeling like they’ll be rewarded for a good job, they expect to be punished if they have a miss. Geez! No wonder they’re not engaged. I’d be flying so low under the radar I’d be in a trench.

3.     Show some interest.  When was the last time you asked your employee about something other than work product?  I’m not just talking about the Monday morning catch up form Sunday’s football games.  How often do you ask them about their career goals, their family, or their vacation?

4.     Fire the underperformers. No one wakes up in the morning and thinks, “I’m so lucky because I get to work with a group of mediocre people”. Allowing the slackers to keep slacking off makes you look like a crisis avoider at best, and destroys your morale at worst.  Trust me, when you finally get rid of the deadbeat, your top performers will applauding you.

Just to be clear, employee engagement is not the same thing as happiness. Just like a marriage, you may not be happy every day, but you are committed and emotionally invested.  In the long run, isn’t that more important?