I think the simplest way to improve employee engagement (and you really want to engage your employees – they actually know what’s going on with each other and with your customers!) is to follow three guidelines that are ultimately all about reducing stress. (Remember that commercial about cows from California and how stress-free they are? Makes for better cheese. Same goes for employees – less stress equals better performance and encourages feedback and engagement.)
Employee review process. Your employees probably dread having a root canal less than they do their yearly employee review. So why not break things up and conduct employee reviews on a quarterly basis? You can still do the once-a-year big picture review, where you look at career options and compensation. But scheduling less intense quarterly reviews gives you the chance to ask some of the important questions that can’t really be answered on a yearly basis – how are we doing as a company, what are you hearing in the field, what short-term changes in process/strategy do you suggest we look at?
Additionally, you are giving your employees not only a vehicle to vent and/or pass along useful information, but you also come across (rightfully so) as wanting to advance their careers by paying more attention to their needs and aspirations – not just once-a-year, but quarterly. Which reduces stress. Which allows employees to feel freer to share information. Sharing information engenders trust. It’s a beautiful cyclic experience!
Become a better listener. We’ve run lots of articles on TIG about the art of listening. The most important talent you can learn in your lifetime – works for your career and for your personal life.
If you would just become better at listening to your employees, you will accomplish two things – first, you’ll actually hear what they are trying to tell you. Instead of assuming you’re listening, actually get into the habit of keeping a journal and jotting down those important messages from your peeps that seem to slip through the cracks. Ever hear an employee say, “I’ve been saying that for years!” – well, they probably have! You just haven’t been listening.
Being listened to means you’re being taken seriously. Which builds trust. Which reduces stress. If employees believe management will listen to them and take them seriously, they are naturally more willing to bring up vital points on how to improve processes/performance/customer service. Another perfect circle.
Recognition and Reward. If you want to engage more meaningfully with your employees – and accelerate performance – there simply isn’t a better way than implementing a Recognition and Reward program. It’s not hard to implement and it doesn’t cost an arm-and-a-leg. You don’t have to be a large company to put together a program that will maximize your ROI. When you invest in your employees, they will return that investment with renewed commitment and will be a fount of information and engagement. Another of those perfect circles you can create.
There are many ways to engage employees and they are a wealth of knowledge waiting to be tapped. Reduce stress and build trust if you want to hear the truth about what’s going on in your business.