Eight Ways to Boost Employee Engagement and Create a Winning Workplace

How do you get employees to go the extra mile and perform at the peak of their capacity? Some say job satisfaction and happiness are key elements of exceptional employee commitment. I don’t disagree with that. But I would argue that employee satisfaction and happiness are not enough. After all, I could love my work, yet still only perform at 50% of my potential.

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The real key to exceptional commitment and performance is employee engagement. What exactly is employee engagement? It boils down to an energetic and enthused workforce that puts its heart and soul into everything it does. Businesses with engaged employees outperform those with lower engagement levels by a staggering 202%, according to a Dale Carnegie study. Yet, according to another study by Gallup, only about 30% of employees in the United States are truly engaged.

Here are eight ways to create engagement and get your employees charged up about going to work in the morning.

Tip #1: Formally Recognize your Employees

A business that fails to appreciate its employees is guaranteed to suffer. By contrast, those that demonstrate appreciation often see a spike in employee engagement. Recognition can come in many forms. Managers can send out personal e-mails to employees congratulating them on a job well done. Or the company can show its appreciation via social media posts or at companywide gatherings. It doesn’t have to always come from supervising staff. Peer recognition is often more highly valued since it’s not often expected. Encourage this within your company.

No matter how it’s done, recognition can boost the confidence of your employees and encourage them to take on more responsibility. Letting employees know that they are valued, even from their first day in the office, can positively influence their commitment.

Tip #2: Create a Collaborative Culture

Engagement falls flat when employees are trapped in a culture of poor communication, tight deadlines, and endless, unproductive meetings. Creating a collaborative culture that champions teamwork and breaks down silos will allow employees to be their authentic selves and help them feel safe about sharing both their successes and their failures. A collaborative culture can also help build trust and good rapport among your employees. It allows employees to cross lines that demark boundaries of expertise, getting them to engage more deeply in the overall success of the company. By being open and available, you’re fostering a positive work environment that leads to a more successful business.

Tip #3: Hire Team Players

Hire people who like to work in teams. That’s the way of the business world today. Reclusive corner-cube, subject matter experts who may best be left alone are relics in today’s workplace.  Work has become intensively collaborative. All missions are accomplished by teams. Ownership and accountability are often shared. If you want to build a highly engaged workforce, you’ll need to be extremely selective in your hiring. Engagement starts right at the first job interview. Make sure your hiring process is engagement-centric by screening for candidates who can thrive in a team-oriented workspace.

Tip #4: Invest in Pulse Surveys

Annual surveys may be important for gaining valuable employee feedback, but they are not nearly enough. Complement this feedback with employee pulse surveys that can give quick and frequent insights into the health of your company. The beauty of pulse surveys is that they take only a few minutes to complete and can be done once every few weeks. They are a great way to get up-to-the-minute insights into your business and discover whether employee goals are aligned with those of the company. They catch things early and quickly. Pulse surveys are an incredibly valuable and efficient way to learn how your employees really feel and what they need to succeed.

Tip #5: Turn Work into a Game

What if your customer support team closed tickets with the same level of engagement and excitement they have when playing their favorite video game? That’s the power of gamification. Done right, it converts mundane tasks into truly fun activities. At the heart of gamification is the spirit of competition, which drives employees to achieve goals and earn the reward of a job well done.  Of course, not all your employees will have the same passion for gaming, so your methods shouldn’t frustrate employees. Goals and targets should be practically attainable and not overwork anyone. GamEffective, Keas, and Badgeville are some platforms that can help you succeed with gamification. After all, a little competition can go a long way. But be conscious and know when to turn it off.

Tip #6: Level up Your Performance Reviews

Annual performance reviews can provide employees with tons of comments and feedback but could come off as process-driven and routine. Consider implementing a continuous, year-round feedback loop instead. This involves formal meetings or even informal engagements, often ad hoc, where employees and supervisors engage as work gets done. This way, feedback is accurate, timely, and more objective. Managers can gauge employee performance and address issues early before they become a real problem. Employees have direct and immediate context for this feedback. You can further engage your workforce and boost performance with 360-degree feedback and peer-to-peer reviews that let you quickly gather insights about each member of the team.

Tip #7: Encourage the Free Flow of Ideas

The joy and pride we feel when our ideas are accepted and implemented is invaluable. When employees feel that their opinions are taken seriously, regardless of where they stand in the company hierarchy, they’ll volunteer more often, contributing more interesting ideas and solutions. Innovation happens best this way. Institute judgment-free brainstorming sessions that spark creativity and allow your employees to come up with wild, smart ideas. Bat around as many ideas as possible. Pose questions, appreciate contributions, make suggestions, and don’t say anything demotivating, even if you don’t agree with an idea.

Tip #8: Invest in Career Development

Work might change, but human nature doesn’t. Most people seek to enhance their skills and reach their full potential. Your employees should know that you care about their growth and that there are new opportunities waiting for them just around the corner. Prove this by investing in their training and growth. Offer a rotational program where employees get to experience new and different areas of the business. Create career maps that help employees explore their career development opportunities and visualize areas of growth. For example, if you have a marketer who speaks French, train that employee to help you launch your product internationally. You might just uncover a completely new skill.

A business prospers when employees are engaged and raring to go. The workplace you design can go beyond mere employee productivity and can drive deep engagement. Show that you care, and your employees will go the extra mile.

Vijay Sundaram is the Chief Strategy Officer at Zoho.


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