10 Ways to Engage your Employees

There is an ongoing discussion about how employees should behave and how they should really engage more in the organization. But more often than not, it is not the employee’s fault, the company leaders can and must do a lot more to successfully engage their employees.

Managers and Executives are responsible for engaging and challenging their employees. They should give them tasks that are apt to their individual skills, so the employee can feel content and fulfilled at the workplace. Engaged employees have a direct impact on the overall performance and strength of a company.


Alarming number of disengaged employees

According to the 2013 Gallup “State of the Global Workplace” there are three types of employee engagement.

  • Engaged:
    The employees are passionate about their job and feel a connection to the organization they work in. They are innovative and drive the company forward.
  • Not Engaged:
    These employees have given up. They do what needs to be done, but without strong emotion or spirit. They make up the numb majority.
  • Actively Disengaged:
    The employees do the bare minimum and are pretty miserable. They even try to undermine what the other, more engaged colleagues have achieved.

The alarming part is that the study shows around 70% of the workers in the US are not engaged at the workplace. That means 7 out of 10 employees are disengaged or even hostile towards the company.

A Netsurvey conducted by Bain and Company, questioning 200,000 employees from 40 companies across 60 countries revealed these three troubling trends concerning engagement:

  • The longer the employees remain at the company, the less engaged they are. The most experienced workers with the deepest knowledge of the company process were typically the least engaged.
  • More disengagement at the frontline. Engagement scores decline at the lower levels of a company, which implies that upper management doesn’t recognise the dissatisfaction of frontline employees.
  • Sales and Service show the lowest levels of engagement. At the frontline, where most interactions with the customers happen, the employees seem to be very disengaged.

10 steps to engagement

To reach the goal of high employee engagement, there are 10 steps you as a leader can take.

1. Set clear expectations

Managers must clearly communicate to employees what their tasks are and what expectations they have for them. A good leader will leave it up to the individuals to decide how to meet those expectations.

2. Communicate clearly and constantly

The most important part of a manager’s job is communicating effectively. Make sure information is presented in a regular manner, using memos, newsletters and training sessions. Ask questions and make sure you are understood. Employees must know how they are connected to the organization strategy and what part they play every step of the way.

3. Benefit from employees’ knowledge and talent

Tap into the knowledge and talent pool to create an organization with highly engaged employees. Especially older employees have a lot of experience and inside knowledge of the company and can be of great benefit.

4. Define shared values

Create a common purpose by clearly defining the desired emotional experience you want to provide to your customers. That way you can give your employees a meaning to their tasks and work towards a common goal.

5. Focus on your customers

To frontline employees it is absolutely clear that the customer comes first, but this vision has to be carried throughout the entire organization. Show all your employees how they are affecting and supporting the customer and give their work a higher purpose through that.

6. Promote your company’s vision through the customers

Use your customers to bring the organization’s vision to life by finding stories of how your product has improved your customers lives.

7. Listen to your employees

The frontline employees have the best knowledge of what needs to be improved. Every organization has issues and needs fixes and the people struggling with them know best what is not working. Managers need to listen to their employees and remove the hierarchical barriers in order to provide the best service possible to their customers.

8. Let the frontline solve problems independently

The frontline employees need to be given the freedom to solve problems on the spot in order to avoid holdup and subsequently negative customer experiences.

9. Embrace failure

A good leader allows for mistakes. Giving employees the opportunity to approach tasks in different ways will lead to innovation and individual development. As Thomas Edison said: “I haven’t failed, I just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

10. Share good and bad news

Encouraging conversation on difficult issues shows that no conversation is out of place and problems need to be addressed in an open and transparent way.