According to Custom Insight, Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and put discretionary effort into their work.
In short - happy employees perform better.
Think about it: with more and more people leaving their jobs in search of a better option, what will help keep them loyal to one particular job or company over the other is the culture and experience at work.
So, how do you keep your employees happy and motivated to do their jobs, day in and day out? The answer is a great employee engagement program, which is what we’ll be talking about today.
It Starts with the Leaders
Great leaders make great teams. Great leaders have two essential impacts on an employee engagement program: 1) Walk the Talk and 2) Listen.
Study after study shows that if the leaders of an organization do not buy-in and support the employee engagement program actively, and with action, it will not have a lasting impact on the organization.
And trust us, we’ve seen it. Employee engagement is not a “tactic du jour” that one leader or department can implement. If it is not cooked into the culture and expectations at every single level, it will not work. Period.
Secondly, great leaders don’t make decisions alone - instead, they listen to and value their team’s feedback.
Think about it: your team is likely the one dealing with customers every day. They’re the ones utilizing the tools and training they receive to provide them with the best service possible, therefore they’ll be the first ones to know if anything’s not working properly.
For this reason, leaders should actively invite and empower their employees to provide feedback and insights into how to improve their work experience and performance. This will not only help you fix any problems that arise in a timely manner, but it’ll also make your employees feel valued as part of this bigger team.
This idea of continuous improvement is what helps keep employees engaged and has the benefit of improving your service experience to customers…all of which add up to big impacts on the bottomline of your business.
So think about it: what are you listening and collecting input from your teams? And what are you doing with that information?
Use Different Approaches to Solicit Feedback
A lot of companies have some sort of annual feedback program in place, where at the same time every year they solicit feedback from their employees.
And while any program is better than having no program at all, it is NOT sufficient for developing a successful employee engagement approach. You need to look into and implement other opportunities to solicit employee feedback, in order to get the best results.
Maybe the next time you get a bad review or see a complaint trend, you can gather your team or use a survey instrument to discuss the process behind the complaint and then collectively assess any room for improvement. Or before you turn in your annual goals and strategic plan for your department, present it to your team for their feedback and ideas to achieve said goals. This will likely get you better, more timely feedback on certain issues, and it’ll also help to keep your employees more engaged.
Listen, Don’t Assume
If you make the effort to solicit feedback from your employees, you should also close the loop on that effort by using it and inviting employees to participate in “solutions” to address a particular issue, rather than taking it upon yourself to guess what they need.
You can invite a selected group of employees to try to uncover what’s working well and where there’s room for improvement in the process. And, if you can’t act on a certain piece of input, it’s also important to communicate why. Maybe it’s not the right timing, or maybe there are budget implications, but closing the loop on why that is will help keep employees informed and engaged.
Using a kanban board or other visual project tracker has worked well for projects we have managed in the past. Staff was encouraged to bring up ideas/concerns during stand-up meetings and those were placed on the kanban board in the middle of the work area. It reminded leaders and staff alike to focus on continuous improvement and to follow up, but also provided a way to identify any service trends early.
However you decide to organize this process, the ability to collect and provide feedback and make employees part of the solution process will play a big part in integrating your team. You will begin to see a shift when they feel like an important piece of the organization and can see their role in moving you toward success.
Identify Themes in the Feedback
After you gather up all the feedback from team surveys and meetings, it’s important to sit with that information and try to identify any relevant themes.
What topics seem to be “pain points” for your employees? What is working well, and what is not working at all?
These themes will help you make decisions in your business. Maybe you see the person at the front desk could use some help around a specific time of the day, while the employee in the back office prefers to work on their own. Or maybe you find that a tool you’ve been paying for hasn’t been used and maybe that money would be better spent in training for a specific aspect of their jobs.
The bottom line is to make sure you evaluate and use the data to make improvements - don’t just collect it!
Develop Work Teams to “Tackle” Themes
Teamwork makes the dream work. After you look at the big picture and identify any relevant themes to work on, it’s time to put together a couple of work teams, roll up your sleeves and get to work - leaders included!
By having the leaders take part in these teams, it’ll empower employees to help research and develop resources and strategies for improvement.
Say you find that you need to work on your customer service and customer acquisition - maybe one team can do some research on tools to better manage incoming customer inquiries, while the other one can work on finding better ways to market the business.
These workgroups are also a good way to help employees expand their skills - in leadership, project management, presentation skills, communication, and collaboration.
Publish Detailed Action Plans
After each team tackles their individual themes, they should each be tasked with publishing an action plan that is available to all interested stakeholders. This report should include any targets tackled, milestones to be worked on, and timelines for success identified in the research process.
This report will serve as the foundation for your implementation but also help your team see exactly how their work drives the business's success. And these connections are essential to employee engagement.
Then, invite ongoing input and continuous improvement as you get started on the plan.
Share Progress on Action Plans from Each Team
It’s also important to share the progress on the previously set action plans with one another, once again to invite that collaborative aspect.
Teams should each designate a speaker that is responsible for reporting actions, progress, and any achievements as the teams launch and begin their improvement process. This will help keep everyone informed and lines of communication open and clear.
These updates can be made in stand-up meetings or other team communication channels. If you use a kanban board, for example, that can be kept updated with Slack messages for the team to ask questions. There are many ways to accomplish this, but the point is to make sure the entire team is kept updated and has an invitation to continue collaborating on improvements.
Celebrate Every Accomplishment
Large or small, significant or minor - every step towards better employee engagement should be documented, praised, appreciated, and celebrated!
A meaningful thank you or recognition of efforts has been found to be more important to the morale and resiliency of staff than even a pay raise. As a leader, you can never underestimate the power of your thanks, and you may want to consider having a thank you program in place, that you can either automate or easily send out whenever your team reaches a new milestone or accomplishment.
Always remember the concept of “I see you - hear you - appreciate you” - this can not be missed. Meaning you shouldn’t just automate a program without ensuring you also include a personal thanks, message, announcement, or other touches so the intention of building morale and engagement is still met. After all, your team wants to hear from YOU!
Have a little fun, be surprising, it doesn’t have to cost a lot, or anything at all, but the point is don’t get onto the next thing too quickly. Rember, a team that works together - wins together - and should celebrate together!
At Boss Lady Consulting, one of our biggest passions is creating impactful customer experience and employee engagement programs because we know that is truly the foundation to grow your business or organization.
If your business needs more volume, better retention, improved culture or process, we can guarantee there is a thread to experience and engagement that will move the needle.
Interested to learn more? Book a no-pressure exploration call today and let’s see if working together makes sense to reach your goals!