With the year coming to an end, companies are now analysing their 2018 performance and mapping out strategies to enhance growth come the New Year. An often underrated part of a firm’s upward trajectory is their employees’ engagement.
Employee engagement is a staff’s emotional commitment to what a company wants to achieve — its goals and mission. An engaged employee is willing to put in extra effort, like working into the night to go above and beyond for a client, to make a difference for the company. They are enthusiastic about their job and are dedicated to their day-to-day activities because they understand how their work fits into the overall mission of the company, and they believe in the overall mission of the company.
Employee engagement differs from employee satisfaction — the measure of how happy and satisfied an employee is at work — in a few key ways. In particular, while satisfied employees enjoy coming to work every day, engaged employees will be genuinely interested in improving company products and services, and bring the energy to promote innovative thinking. So, what can you do to achieve employee engagement in your firm?
1. Promote learning culture
Do your employees feel you have an interest in their career growth and personal development, beyond just a focus on profitmaking? There are many ways to promote a learning culture including training, mentorship programmes where younger employees can benefit from the advice of more tenured team members and giving employees opportunities to try new things and learn on the job. One idea from a client we love is once a month invitation of speakers on a topic that interests their team.
2. Positive work environment
Is your office the kind of place your employees look forward to being each day? Is it comfortable? Is it accessible to eliminate the hassle of getting to work, or do you have flexible hours to account for different commutes and family obligations? These are among the things you should ask yourself as you think about your office space. The environment your employees walk into each day has a tremendous impact on engagement levels and productivity, and even how they go about their work. For instance, open floor plans encourage collaboration across team members, while cubicles encourage individual work.
3. decision making
Giving your employees autonomy about how they structure their work and approach their projects goes a long way in promoting ownership, job satisfaction, and engagement. When an employee knows they can get things done without you breathing down their neck, they will put in the extra effort to ensure things are done and in the right way. Freedom also boosts the confidence of your employees — when employees feel they are trusted and valued by management, they are more likely to creatively problem solve and develop in their roles.
Of course, not every role and not every individual will thrive with full autonomy. Understanding each employee's needs and how that maps to their role within the organisation will help you determine who needs extra support and who is at their best with minimal guidance.
Regardless, setting clear standards for what success looks like and how success is measured and evaluated is critical.
4. Career growth and incentives clarity
Both potential and existing employees want to see how their career path could evolve while working for your company. We recently conducted a survey for more than 6,000 jobseekers which revealed that opportunities for growth topped reasons candidates apply for a job compared to competitive salary, responsibility, stability, and a well-known brand name.
Career paths can look different at different types of organisations. What matters most is clarity for employees on how they might grow and develop within your company. Further, when someone appreciates the company’s rewards structure, they are more likely to work hard and do all it takes to get to the next level, all contributing to levels of commitment, loyalty, and engagement.
It is also crucial to communicate clearly what an employee needs to accomplish to get a promotion. This way, they are more likely to trust you with their career growth and will work smart to ensure they meet what it takes to get promoted.
5. Performance Reviews
One of the best ways to set clear expectations with teammates and evaluate their success is through performance reviews. It’s also a great way to ensure that employees feel they are being grown and developed in their work.
How are employee reviews conducted in your company? Comprehensive research shows that feedback is best given in two main ways — first, in the moment, and second, at planned performance reviews.
During performance reviews, you should look back at past performance compared to performance goals, as well as forward-looking towards expectations for the next quarter.
In particular, empowering your staff in their target setting and the creation of evaluation criteria that will be used to measure success ensures that they are fully clear on the work they need to do and how to be successful in the role.
Ariane Fisher, Managing Director at Shortlist, a recruitment firm based in Nairobi.