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How to Boost Productivity: 5 Tips on Employee Engagement

Categories: Management Tips
We’re currently living through one of the most difficult times to hire employees in U.S. history.
The unemployment rate has been hovering below 5 percent, while there are more jobs going unfilled than ever and the time to hire has been at a record 27 days. If you’re regularly hiring or getting ready to hire, I probably just stressed you out a little more with that info. Sorry! But don’t worry, I’ve got some great tips to help you.

Employee Management - planning a meeting

What if you could make some simple changes to your business that helped you produce more with the same employees? What if this also improved retention and referrals? What I’m talking about here is employee engagement. Engagement isn’t just a buzzword or the latest HR trend. It’s measured by Gallup on a daily basis along with things like economic confidence and consumer spending. Engaged employees make up about 30 percent of the workforce. They put in what is called “discretionary effort,” effort that is beyond the minimum needed to perform the job to standard. They’re the ones who literally go above and beyond. They’re also less likely to call in sick, have accidents or leave the company, and they’re more productive than their unengaged counterparts. So, how do you improve engagement? Turns out there are some specific, inexpensive and uncomplicated steps you can take.

1. Plan regular meetings for a more engaged future

Regular meetings with management are shown to improve engagement. This is especially true among millennials, who are 50 percent more likely to be engaged if they meet with management regularly. Of course, having meetings for the sake of meetings can be counterproductive, but proper resource planning can help you meet more efficiently.

What you can do: To make regular meetings part of your company culture, set expectations from the beginning. When you write your job descriptions, be sure to include regular meetings as part of the job for everyone. Make it clear during your onboarding process as well, and then follow through.

2. Make work more meaningful

Another thing studies have tied to engagement is meaning. When employees feel their work is meaningful, they’re more likely to be engaged. It makes a lot of sense if you stop to think about it. Would you be willing to go above and beyond if you felt your job was pointless?

What you can do: Companies have tackled this in several ways. Some give match employee donations, others allow them to donate work hours to a charity - in other words, the company gives them paid charity days. Others hold charity events at work. Steve Jobs was known to directly tie meaning to the work his employees did in unexpected ways, once famously explaining how improving a computer’s speed could, in a sense, save lives.

3. Let them control their destiny

It seems that the more autonomy employees feel they have, the more they get to make decisions, the more engaged they are.

What you can do: Are there some places where you can give up control? For example, can you allow for more flexible schedules or remote work? What would happen if you let them decide how many vacation days they get like Netflix does? Not all businesses or jobs lend themselves to this, but maybe something simple, like giving them more control over how they tackle a project could work at your company.

4. Focus on the good

This is one of the most interesting and easy to implement ways of increasing engagement. All it involves is a shift in attitude. When bosses and managers focus on building employee strengths, rather than trying to rid them of weaknesses, employees become more engaged.

What you can do: Start by practicing what you preach - the next time you meet with an employee, focus on their strengths. Beyond that, talk to other managers about how this can improve engagement, and see if they’ll commit to trying it for a period of time.

5. Help them get recognized

Finally, one of the biggest drivers of employee engagement is recognition. This is one of the easiest to understand. When people go above and beyond, it feels good to get recognized for it. And if people know they’ll be appreciated, they’ll probably feel better about going above and beyond next time. Peer recognition seems to be the most effective.

What you can do: There are several cool apps that make it easy for employees to connect and give each other recognition. You can also try simple programs, such as imitating one that Zappos uses. Each month, employees get to vote on which of their peers went above and beyond. Whoever gets the most votes wins $50. Clearly, it’s not about the money (although $50 is always nice to get), it’s about making employees who have gone out of their way for the company feel like it’s being noticed.

Ok, there are 5 low-cost, easy-to-implement ways that you can help boost engagement at your company, and help it sail through this difficult time for hiring top talent. If you’re strapped for time, see if you can just start practicing tip 4 on your own, and watch the effect it has.

This is a quest post by Paul Peters who is a content marketer and job ad writer with Betterteam. Before Betterteam he spent 6 years building an education startup, where he was involved with many aspects of the business, including hiring and marketing.