Employee engagement is a burning business topic. Why? Study after study has shown that an engaged workforce ultimately leads to greater productivity, profitability and a healthier bottom line. When someone is engaged in their job, it means they believe in the business and are committed to doing their part to contribute to its success.
Nurturing employee engagement can lead to positive returns for any business,” said Heidi Oldaker, a manager at Erie Insurance, who has worked in human resources throughout her career. “Engaged employees are more likely to stay with you, attract other great workers and be willing to do more than what’s expected to support your success.”
So as a business owner or manager, what can you do to keep your team engaged in their work? Here are five tips that Oldaker recommends:
- Share information. The things that motivated you to start and maintain your business will also inspire your employees. Keep your team up to date with the direction of your business or challenges that you face. “Your employees want to know how they contribute to your success, and when you trust them to help you achieve it, they will feel more engaged,” Oldaker said.
- Don’t overlook soft skills. Educational background and professional experience are always important, but soft skills count too. For instance, your (and your employees’) ability to communicate through the spoken and written word is a necessity in the workplace. Poor communication can quickly demotivate a team.
- Establish a rapport. Get to know your employees and find out their work preferences. “It’s impossible to know how your employees like to receive feedback if you don’t ask them,” Oldaker said. “How can you lead them, if you don’t know them?”
- Offer training. When employees feel that their employer is willing to invest in their professional growth, they’re more committed to their roles and the business. In a competitive marketplace, the promise of professional development could also give you an edge and help you attract the best candidate. “It’s worth the investment to motivate employees to do more than their current roles require,” Oldaker said. “You benefit from their improved skills in the short- and long-term. Even if they leave, they could be a great ambassador for your business, and you never know, you might want them to work for you again in the future.”
- Reward employees for their hard work. A cash bonus can be a great short-term motivator, but there are other ways to show appreciation for your employees’ hard work. For example, you could offer to buy them lunch, give them a day off, offer them a choice of assignments or write them a sincere thank you note about their involvement with a particular project. The payoff: a person who feels appreciated may do more than expected.
The leaders who create environments that support employee engagement can reap many benefits, from reduced turnover and safety risks to increased productivity and customer satisfaction,” Oldaker said.
There are many online resources and books available to find more tips on how to improve engagement. One of the influential books in the field is “Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us” by Daniel H. Pink. The author overturns conventional wisdom about human motivation and offers practical advice.
The bottom line with employee engagement is that it’s all about building relationships with your team, Oldaker said. “Your most important step is recognizing that you can make changes to improve engagement, and then coming up with a plan that best suits your business and your team.”
To learn more about the affordable ways to protect your business with insurance coverage, contact a local Erie Insurance agent. Our agents are licensed professionals who have experience running small businesses.