What Are You Doing To Keep Them Engaged? 4 Ways to Help Answer That

Many of us have experienced that moment – the moment when the excitement of a new job or new role begins to wane and we feel less than enthusiastic about going to work every day – that is the engagement decline.

When you get that “Ugh, I so don’t want to come to work today…” feeling, often the catalyst can occur for many different reasons.

It could be changes within the organization, or the impact of outside environmental factors. Perhaps a lack of feeling challenged due to poor skills to role match, leadership changes or managerial style played a part, or maybe a technology or cultural change was the catalyst. Regardless, employee engagement has begun to decline.

So, what can be done about the decline in engagement before it gets worse?

They need to enjoy coming to work

Building a successful business requires more than just saying you value employee engagement – it requires creating a culture of high engagement. If you want people to be engaged, they need to feel valued, heard, and appreciated. They need to see where they fit into the organization, feel that what they are doing is making an impact to overall organizational performance, and feel as though the opportunity exists for ongoing learning and development.

Simply put, they need to enjoy coming to work every day (OK, almost every day) and be inspired to give 100 percent.

So how do you prevent that moment when the excitement begins to disappear – the engagement decline – and show those working within (and with) your organization that you do in fact have a culture of high engagement?

High level – we’ll offer a few qualities that may trigger an engagement decline and a few that help create cultures of high engagement.

Low Engagement

  • Unclear performance goals and expectations
  • Non merit based pay and promotion
  • Lack of leadership interest in employees
  • Minimal opportunities for learning and development
  • Un-collaborative environment
  • Not all people feel equal and valued
  • Poor communication and feedback (voices are not heard)
  • No recognition for performance
  • Lack of alignment of values and culture
  • Minimal interest in customer satisfaction

High Engagement

  • Clear performance goals and expectations
  • Merit based pay and promotion
  • Leadership takes interest in employees
  • Ongoing opportunities for learning and development
  • Collaborative environment
  • All people feel equal and valued
  • Frequent feedback and open communication (voices are heard)
  • Recognition for performance
  • Alignment of values and culture
  • Concerned with customer satisfaction

Organizations are quickly recognizing that having a strong and committed workforce is a key success factor for creating a high-performing organization. Yet many are still uncertain about where to start designing employee engagement and recognition programs.

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How do you create a high engagement organization?

For starters, here’s a thought: ASK YOUR PEOPLE! Many organizations have not actually elicited employee feedback regarding these types of programs.

What do your people think? Have you surveyed the workforce on their thoughts? Successful engagement and recognition programs require employee input. If you’re a leader, have you asked your employees what motivates them? If you’re an employee, has leadership in your organization asked what motivates you? If yes, has the organization taken your feedback and turned it into actions?

Short answer – use the four (4) steps below to develop and excel in the “High Engagement” qualities listed above.

  1. Ask your employees what they want, listen, and take action. What types of knowledge and learning opportunities can help them better perform their jobs? What types of knowledge and learning opportunities make them feel challenged as individuals? Why are the highly engaged so engaged? Why are the low engaged not more engaged? What would make them more engaged? Collect the data and act on it. Offer options based on employee input. One of the quickest ways to increase performance is to increase engagement. One of the quickest ways to increase engagement (or at least so we’ve found) is to make sure your employees feel heard, valued, and appreciated.
  2. Provide opportunities for learning and development. Brown bag lunch and learns, webinars – take advantage of various formats available for employees to share knowledge and interests with others who may benefit– to challenge others and feel challenged. Providing employees the opportunity to transfer knowledge increases an employee’s communication skills. This is an easy way to provide recognition, which contributes to making employees feel valued and heard, increasing engagement.
  3. Hire people who fit your culture and share your organizational values. When hiring people don’t just hire based on skills and experience. Hire also based on cultural fit. All people are different, some may excel in certain cultures and some may not. If you’re a creative entrepreneurial organization that doesn’t have an overly rigid structure, then hire people who thrive on that type of environment, not people who thrive in a more overly structured environment. Values alignment is imperative. Hire people who share the values of your organization not those who may be in conflict with them. Many tools and technologies are available to help in the assessment of cultural fit of new hires. Once you hire people, who are skills and cultural fit, communicate early and often. Let people know where they fit into the organization, and make sure they understand how and what they are doing is making an impact to overall organizational performance.
  4. Understand your needs and admit you don’t know what you don’t know. If specific learning and development or organizational changes are requested by employees, and are of value to the organization and customers, and you don’t have the capability in house to deliver then look outside. Partner with other organizations or outside resources on learning and development, organizational communication and change, and leadership development and coaching offerings.

Here’s hoping that most of you desire to have a culture of high engagement – and strive to create and maintain an organization where people really want to work!

What triggers your engagement decline feelings? What do you think are the impacts, if any, of not focusing on engagement and retention?

This was originally published on the Tolero Think Tank blog.

Scott Span, MSOD, is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions, an Organization Improvement & Strategy firm. He helps clients in achieving success through people, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable -- organizations where people enjoy working and customers enjoy doing business. 


5 Comments on “What Are You Doing To Keep Them Engaged? 4 Ways to Help Answer That

  1. If your organization is going to survey your employees to gauge employee engagement, you must take the data received seriously. You’re right, there is often no follow up. Taking action is the most important tip you provided, so managers, listen up.

  2. Hi Scott…Another tactic: Ask employees to describe a specific time when a manager or existing “process” hindered them from doing their job and how they felt. Likewise, ask them to describe a specific time when a manager or existing “process” positively      helped them to do their job and how they felt. Details are critical – who, what, when, where, why. Understanding the people and processes behind engagement and disengagement are the drivers behind taking down barriers and building more effective “structures.”L&D is great but it has to be focused. On critical “is-now” and “will-be” problem solving. For instance, if you’re implementing open-book management, you sure as heck need to teach non-financial employees some balance sheet principles. Someone has to directly tie all this new material to the person’s current role. This means that managers have to be in the room when their folks are learning new things so they can make the connections between new stuff and existing roles.DON’T just hire people who fit your culture and share your organizational values. Hire people who can also shake up your sacred culture. Identify people whose skills sets and problem solving experiences can take your company to new places. It’s laughable when company’s spout off loudly about their disruptive technology yet won’t hire disruptive employees. Value alignment is not culture fit – it’s value alignment (like being customer focused, blah, blah, blah). Culture shouldn’t be a Wailing Wall but more like a containment boom that flexes.

  3. Great points, Scott. As you highlighted, feedback, recognition, and real-time communication need to happen often, not necessarily when the employee requests it or when you notice a problem. This is how you can keep your employees engaged–constant collaboration and acknowledgement means team members stay on top of their goals, as well as understand your thoughts on their performance.

  4. Thanks for the comments. 
    @twitter-80409172:disqus you raise a great point that many ,leaders and managers overlook – timely feedback should not just be provided at the onset of an issue, however should be provided frequently when things are going well.
    @f8d2a020ed335e196190fd6f8eb0b3fc:disqus  I like that exercise. I agree on customization  I’m not one for pushing one size fits all solutions. I often use direct employee or leader experiences as part of my client work and find it makes the work much more relevant to the audience and thus increases commitment to the initiative, and in this case, engagement . Per your point on hiring for culture fit, I do agree that organizations should not hire a bunch of “yes men/women”, however hiring to many people that combat the culture can have an opposite impact on innovation and team performance. If those folks are to disruptive, others won’t want to communicate or work with them, and that can cause an issue. 
    @twitter-336629054:disqus I couldn’t agree more, one of the fastest ways to kill morale and engagement is to ignore the input of those who you requested feedback from in the first place.

  5. Great article, Scott. Employee engagement can certainlymake or break an organization. High employee engagement can be directly attributed to hiring the right people for the job and company culture. Once you have the right people, you can ask them what they need, and adjust accordingly. I agree the aspect of transparency and communication will take you in the right direction.

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