14 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement

Many people in the business community talk about a lack of available talent to hire. This includes everyone from welding and CNC operators all the way up to executive level positions.  The problem stems from baby boomers retiring, younger people wanting to live in large urban areas, people being more selective about where to work, dual income families who leave due to relocation when one person finds a better job, and a reduced number of people receiving secondary education degrees.

The simple rule of supply and demand should mean wages are going to go up, but if no one is interested in your location or company, money may not be as important of a motivator as it was in the past.  Current talent management initiatives have recognized the shortage of qualified people to fill openings.  With this in mind, some companies have put a much larger emphasis on retention strategies to make sure they don't lose people who are bringing value to the company now.  Some have turned to traditional solutions such as raising base incentive plans outside of the 401K.  While looking at these "levers" has often been enough, new research is indicating that people who feel engaged at work are more likely to stay with their current employer and not be affected by those "levers"; this is particularly true of Millennials.

The problem is figuring out what makes people feel like they are engaged in their work and the company's future.  This can be a moving target but here are a few items to consider to increase engagement:

  1. Over communicate company information including financial results, company achievements, personal achievements, challenges, competitive advantages and disadvantages.
  2. Provide as much training and development as possible, making sure people's strengths are being fed and nurtured.
  3. Make sure people are in positions that match their strengths.  People perform much better if they are in positions that tap into things they do well.
  4. Promote from within. Even if the person is not altogether ready but there is potential, provide training, coaching and mentoring to assure their success.

  5. Provide opportunities outside their regular job to grow and have different experiences.

  6. Promote group decision-making which allows people to come up with new ideas and ways to do things better, faster and at a lower cost.

  7. Provide “career pathing” with clear, realistic time frames and what will be required to be promoted. Match individual plans with the training and development so people can be on target to achieve their next promotion.

  8. Meet with employees on a regular basis outside of reviews to measure results and provide career feedback and assistance.

  9. Provide support for issues outside of the work place such as an EAP program.

  10. Provide awards and recognition for those who are exceeding expectations.

  11. Meet on occasion with employees with no purpose in mind other than to check in and see how they are doing.

  12. Keep an open door so people can feel comfortable coming in to talk with you and get advice.

  13. Be willing to delegate important assignments to people, giving them not just responsibility for results but the authority to get the job done. This doesn’t mean giving up total control because you have to make sure you lay out the context of the assignment, offer clear expectations, specific measurements for success, and touch points along the way to assure they are on track along with a date when the assignment needs to be completed.

  14. Being warm and friendly is not a sign of weakness or that you are looking to be everyone’s best friend. On the other hand life is short and the world is small; people want to work at places that sincerely care about their employees.