Organisations that are large, small, medium sized, privately owned, listed on the stock exchange, government entities or councils all have one thing in common – the big challenge: how do you keep employees engaged?
If the answer was simple, I’d be a billionaire, but I do know that the key to keeping employees engaged is to find out a) if they are engaged and b) work out what is working now and what isn’t. Now, there are a million and one ways to do this but what it all really boils down to is a culture of sharing sentiment and news that can be managed without any fear of negative reprisals. So how might you do that?
Here a few key tips we have learnt in our time helping organisations work with their employees effectively:
- Keep the executives honest:
- Your executive staff members are human too. Just because somebody is skilled at their core function does not necessarily mean they are great communicators. Observe them in meetings, do they take feedback well, respond to questions or acknowledge comments?
- Work with your executives on their interpersonal communication skills. If need be, invest in one-to-one style executive coaching to explore their strengths and their opportunities to improve and grow.
- Ask your staff what they think and feel and ask them regularly – don’t make it a one off.
- If you set up regular interactions where you give: information, free advice and good stuff it makes it easier when you ask for something in return. Set up information channels designed for asking for information and giving in return. Make interactions fun and not onerous.
- Find new ways to do it – Jobvibe, Survey Monkey, fun face-to-face. Think of a few different ways to do it:
- Lunch and learn: To take it up notch, create an opportunity for employees to lunch and learn — one-on-one — with the boss.
- Walk a day in someone else’s shoes: A job swap program, which allows employees to spend time working in various offices or departments, can help them better understand the role different jobs have in driving company success – and can help them do their own job too!
- Look at technology as an option for understanding your employees better. Survey Monkey is a tried and tested survey tool and a couple of Aussies have developed JobVibe that gives real time information via a smartphone application. Don’t be afraid of the technology it can do great things for you!
- Tell people how their information contributes or equally why it didn’t.
- You would be amazed at how often we see people forget this one. Tell people what happened with the information they gave, even if you didn’t utilise it. People just want to know how they contributed. It’s a simple thing but one that really matters.
- Have a strategy – let everybody know about it
- Tell your staff why you are asking them about how they feel or think about their work. Why does it matter, what’s the plan? It is human nature to wish to belong and people are far more willing to give if there is a belief it is for a greater cause.
Don’t think for a second that these challenges are unique to large organisations; it only takes two people for a miscommunication. By building a strategy and taking a regular pulse of your team you stand yourself in the best possible position for an engaged and effective workplace. Good luck out there!