Keep Your Employees Engaged

Avoid these six mistakes and you’ll be on your way to building a more valuable workforce.
Keep Your Employees Engaged
Magi Graziano

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It’s easy to copy a successful business model, but copying the model doesn’t necessarily mean copying the success. Today, more than ever, people truly are a company’s only competitive advantage.

Businesses that want to succeed must focus on employee engagement strategies that improve overall workforce productivity and return on staffing investments. When employees are disengaged or disenfranchised with their work situation, performance plateaus or greatly diminishes. When there is awareness about what causes unhappiness at work, a company can do something about it.

The first step in creating and inspiring engagement in the workforce is to debunk the pervasive and misleading myths about employee engagement.

There are six myths disrupting companies’ ability to keep people engaged.

1. A flexible work environment fosters productivity

More often than not, companies do a poor job of looping remote workers into the day-to-day activities of the business. Unfortunately, a very typically adverse impact of remote work for the employee is out of sight, out of mind. Research shows that remote workers and workers with flex time schedules receive less coaching and mentoring and miss out on the institutional knowledge-sharing and socialization that typically happens in a shared workspace.

2. Strong paychecks equal strong loyalty

Not all people are primarily motivated by money, and more often than not, fair and sustainable pay is not a motivator — it is a table stake.

For 80 percent of the working population, the money is not a lever that leads to engagement and buy-in. Forty percent of people want workplace rewards in terms of more educational opportunities, rewarding and challenging projects, and a sense that they can further their knowledge and career path as a result of working with a specific company or in a certain role. The other 40 percent of workers want to feel emotionally connected to the mission and service of the organization and to the customers they serve. Increasing their customer-facing opportunities is much more rewarding than a few extra bucks in their paycheck or receiving a gift card for coffee.

If money is the only mechanism to get people to stay, it leads to people using money to create bidding wars between current and future employers.

3. Employee independence is necessary for performance

One pervasive myth is that all employees need autonomy and independence, and the more hands-off that management is the better the employee will perform. The reality is that autonomy and independence are not values that everyone shares. To one employee, being left alone can be a true benefit and they may thrive when left up to their own devices. To others it is a recipe for feeling disconnected, isolated and ignored.

4. A job is just a job

Today’s worker and human beings in general are much more evolved and present to work-life fulfillment than ever before. Employees today fundamentally want and need so much more than a job for a paycheck. A striking majority of workers have said they want purpose and meaning in the work they do, and that they feel happier at work when they know that what they do matters to the success of the organization.

5. Employees should be satisfied with their current position

High-performing people need to see a pathway for themselves in the role they own and in the company they work in. Engagement research shows that when people see a pathway for their growth and development they provide a higher level of consistent results for the team. When employees feel that a company is invested in their growth, they are more committed to their role and more connected to how they impact the success of the company.

6. Your company is enough to keep the employee

The sixth myth is that people go to work for a company and their loyalty to the company and brand is enough to keep them engaged and retained, but if an employee does not have a strong relationship with their manager, no incentive or brand loyalty will keep them fully engaged. People need to feel appreciated, respected, acknowledged and important; when their direct manager does not provide meaningful assignments, regular feedback and mentoring, engagement is thwarted.

A well thought-out, conscious employee engagement program considers who people are as individuals, and allows for customization in the approach to assigning work and giving feedback. Individualization is a 21st century shift from the one-size-fits-all management of the ‘80s. A main component of a well-built employee engagement program includes a highly competent management team that embraces coaching and mentoring its people.

When a manager takes the time to offer professional development opportunities, communicate how the employee’s role contributes to the organization’s overall success and rewards great performance, employees feel valued and appreciated, and engagement soars.


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