Learning how to engage with your employees sounds simple enough, you probably think you already do it. However, how do you measure this? Is it because you have great staff retention? Is it because your teams are always productive? Knowing what your employees need but talking with them is the best way to engage with them rather than assuming.
What is the best way to engage with your employees?
It’s always a little difficult to embrace change especially when you know you have to make changes in order to achieve your goals for the business but it doesn’t have to be painful. I’ve put together these 10 tips to help you engage with your employees that your business can apply right away.
They aren’t all cost focussed although I appreciate that everything will cost something at some point. However, given the amount of additional time your employees put into your business such as lunch breaks, early starts and late finishes, you probably have a pool of lieu that you can off-set. This can help you start making changes right away to improve your employee engagement within the business.
10 tips to help you engage with your employees
The key to the success of this is to be consistent. Your employees are looking to build trust with your changes and commit to you. Therefore, this can only be achieved with consistency and an active effort on your part to change.
- Keep some distance between any struggles within the business (low revenue) and the workforce. When you keep on talking about not making enough money, you apply undue stress to your employees which inevitably leads to a downturn in productivity.
- Use a ‘middle person’ when dealing with challenging issues such as low revenue. You could use an Office Manager, HR Manager, or someone you trust in a senior role in the business. This allows a buffer between your personal goals for the business and empowers other leaders within your organisation to take the reins appropriately. Again, this lessons the stress experienced by the front-line. Hearing your boss say that the business needs to make more money will fall on an employees’ ears as failure in the work they are doing, no matter how you attempt to dress it up. You are the boss, if you say things aren’t going well, employees will be in fear.
- Don’t brag about your personal life. It’s easy to say “I’m on leave and going skiing in Aspen/Davos etc” with no intention of bragging but to indeed go skiing, it’s one of the most expensive ways to travel. Your employees will hear that (whether the business is doing well or not) you can ‘jolly’ (and you have every right to, it’s your business) wherever and at whatever cost regardless of the pressure you are putting on your teams. They will feel demotivated especially if they haven’t been able to travel yet in the year or know that you are spending all the company’s money on your lavish holidays. Think MP expenses scandal. It may well have been within the remit of their budgets/pay but the general public didn’t see it this way. We instead felt they were spending our hard earned taxes on their ‘jollies.’ Just be careful with this one. It’s ok to be a little elusive as a boss without disconnecting with your employees.
- Don’t connect with ANYONE from your company on social media. No matter how good they are at their job or their loyalty to the company – this is a major no-go area. If you know every little thing your employees do, you will have a difficult time trusting them. Understand that social media is a version of their lives. You will never be getting a real picture and you will also not be able to use it as freely as you might like to. Be really careful with this one and make it a point to every employee that you will not connect with them so they understand too.
- Lead by Example. Easy. An oldie but a goodie. As business owners, we can sometimes forget how we got to where we are. So it’s important to show your teams that you’re also willing to put in the work when you need to. It’s not a good idea to announce a big client win and then not do anything for the pitch. You have to show your employees that you actually care about the business and the work you do, not just the money. They will respect you beyond anything you could imagine if they see you ‘muck-in’ during stressful times. This again earns you loyalty.
- Implement a good change in the business and actually follow through. Keep it simple to begin with and before you’ve defined a strategy for employee engagement. Fuel your teams. Bring in a weekly fruit basket, smoothies, superfoods anything that you can order online and get delivered easily. Show that you care about your teams fuelling themselves – they will literally feel better and they will also enjoy the gesture.
- Celebrate work anniversaries/birthdays with something personal. This is quite a common one, but instead of it being coordinated by the teams, you do it. You actually write the card (and not just “Happy Birthday, best regards, boss” put something in their that shows that you have noticed your team member, make them feel valued. Double the collection so the gift can be worthwhile and make the presents more creative like lounge passes, credit for a trip, music gift cards, Nike gift cards etc. Something they can really use, something relevant to their hobbies and something they will remember came from you/the company. This creates a feeling of gratitude in the employee and will in turn make you feel good. You must remember the people in your company’s machine. They are people.
- Buy some beanbags [insert relevant idea to create a space employees can retreat to] and create a chill out corner. Let them use this space. This breads a culture of trust, which leads to loyalty and higher productivity. If you already have a corner, make it better.
- Create a ‘raffle’ each week where all employee’s names go into a ‘hat’ and the name drawn gets to leave early on a day of their choice in that week. And let them leave around 3pm. Chances are they will still catch up on work but they will also relish leaving earlier so are more likely to be efficient in completing their tasks so that they can enjoy the extra time given.
- Allow your employees to work remotely at least once a week. This doesn’t need to be from home. Let them have a morning in a coffee shop local to your office. This will increase creativity, allow some space between colleagues (think of relationships, we all need space from time to time otherwise we’d all be divorced) and increase trust, loyalty and productivity.
Puja K McClymont | Certified Life Coach in London and NLP Practitioner
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