Ever walked into an office at 9 am and most people aren’t on their seats? And no, most of them didn’t come late either. Yes, they got to work on time but are scattered everywhere in the office, having non-work-related conversations, spending an hour grabbing coffee, filling an unending bottle with water, etc. or they did come late and are the first to leave. While your employees acting this way might just be a coincidence, there is a high chance that they are disengaged or disconnected from their jobs. 

In simple terms, engagement refers to employees who understand their jobs and are clear on how their roles affect or impact the success of the company. 

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, productivity improves by 20-25% in organizations with connected employees. Gallup’s research also indicates that engaged employees generate 20% more in sales, 21% more in profitability and are 50% less likely to leave than their disengaged colleagues.  

More recently, productivity is measured by performance management systems which should “equip, inspire and improve performance”, according to Dr. Ben Wigert, Director of Research and Strategy at Gallup, in an interview. Unfortunately, “only about 14% of people feel like they’re inspired by their current performance management system. And astoundingly, 95% of managers are also not happy with their performance management system. The shift from performance management to what we would call creating a culture of performance development would be a shift toward an approach that is more about ongoing expectations and priorities; it’s more about individualized development and recognition; it’s more about the two-way street of not cascading expectations down but also aligning them up. So, you’re getting employees to think about their work; how it aligns with the purpose and mission of the organization; how it relates to their team’s work; how it relates to other departments’ work.” 

Let’s say you are sold and you’re wondering what to do next? Here are some things you can do to create a culture of engagement.  

Manage Managers 

Help Managers know the right things to do. For example, no one likes to be micro-managed, and even more so teams. A manager only needs to explain the outcomes with some guidance while allowing the team the freedom on how they choose to achieve it. In most cases, this saying holds true; people leave managers not companies. 

Extra-Curricular Activities 

Encourage employees to expand their minds outside of professional development through learning or even work on side projects they are truly passionate about and upon success will add to the company’s bottom line. Google, for example, allows its staff to dedicate 20 percent of their time on side projects. 

Work-life Balance 

Don’t just say it, mean it. Don’t allow a culture of late-nights and over-times because even the best of us burn out. Your employees will appreciate you for it. 

Encourage Feedback 

Let your employees feel heard. When there is a system where they can express themselves and most importantly something is done about it where there’s a need, it fosters trust. 

Allow Innovation 

Inspire innovative ideas by recognizing people who think outside the box. Welcome new ideas and watch as your employees begin to suggest new initiatives or improve existing processes. 

Company Culture  

Helping employees understand the company’s culture and values is also a good way to get them engaged. It will nurture a strong sense of commitment. Importantly, whatever engagement ideas you choose, ensure they fit into the company’s culture and values. 

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