Six steps to greater employee engagement

In a recent Gallup poll, it was revealed that only 15% of the Australia’s employees are engaged at work, and most disengaged employees would change employers right now for as little as a 5% pay increase.

Many organisations believe that strong leadership, and an exclusive focus on the development of their leaders, is the key to a winning culture and high levels of engagement. They are mistaken. Leadership is not the heart of your organisation. The heart of your organisation is its people and their contribution. Without actively engaged employees, the leadership message cannot be heard, and businesses must recognize that an organisation’s vitality and capacity for organic growth is inextricably tied to the everyday experiences of its employees.

We have built 6 highly effective proven steps to employee engagement, and they are as follows:

1. Evaluate – setting benchmarks

The first step on your journey to active engagement is to perform a Health Check on your business. You need to assess where your people are at before you can move forward. There are generally three types of people in every organisation when it comes to engagement levels:

The Engaged Employee -Works with a passion and feels a profound connection to the organisation they work for. They drive innovation and move the organisation forwards, providing maximum return on salary investment

The Non-engaged Employee – Is essentially there in body only. They’re sleep walking through their day. Marking time, but not energy or passion, into their work. They provide minimum return on salary investment and tend to be stagnant.

The Actively Disengaged Employee – is not just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness and hindering progress. Every day these workers undermine the efforts of their engaged co-workers, often providing negative return on salary investment.

2. Buy in – collective accountability

There are two distinct groupings in every business. There’s those that are heart-based, such as relationships, communication, culture and leadership; and then there’s those that are brain-based, such as systems, processes, products and governance. The key to buy in is to build the heart of the business first, so that your people develop an emotional connection to the business and their colleagues, thus feeling more invested and more inclined to go the extra mile with the brain based, non-emotive work. There are many activities you can introduce to create collective buy in and accountability, but the crucial component here is to ensure you prioritise, develop and nurture the heart of your business in order to drive success and engagement. One powerful activity is to hand out post it notes and have everyone write down the one thing the business needs most to be no. 1 in your industry. Some examples may be: Unity, Communication, Sales, Training, Fun, Leadership, Systems, Culture, Engagement. Once the list is finalised, focus on the heart-based growth areas first, and have everyone nominate a tangible action that they must complete each week to improve upon the nominated growth area. 

3. Unite the team – create meaningful connections

A large proportion of the business world is currently living in a virtual and autonomous reality (online), meaning engagement is more important, and more elusive than ever. Whilst Values can be an important component to a business, they’re the end product of what the company wants to achieve and how they wish to be perceived. To get the end product, we must first create unity and accountability amongst the team, and the most effective way to achieve this is through agreed behaviours. Get your team together and ask them to collectively brainstorm and agree to 5 simple, measurable behaviours that are designed by your people for themselves. Employees are far more likely to embrace and uphold their company ‘behaviours’ if they can easily measure themselves and others against them every day.

Empower your people to choose their own standards and behaviours, and ensure they hold themselves and each other accountable with regular, open, honest and respectful communication. This takes an enormous amount of day-to-day pressure off the business leader, and what great leader doesn’t want that? Total ownership, empowerment and buy in from your team.

4. Align your people – create a shared vision

A shared vision is an extension of buy in. The role of a leader is to create a vision, sell the vision and develop collective alignment with that vision. To achieve this, leaders must first embrace their people and take steps to ensure they feel they are their organisation’s most valuable asset. Too often leaders know less about their own people than their people know about them, and no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Take the time to learn more about your people’s wants and needs. Take the time to understand who they are and what drives them. If they see you caring, they will care, they will share your vision and engagement and peak performance will follow.

Strong relationships with leaders and colleagues are the glue that will fast track any vision, and to create a sticky, cohesive team, one of the most powerful activities is a structured group sharing of stories. Ask your team to think of a time in their life where they faced some level of adversity and to consider how that turned that experience into a positive, or alternatively think about someone in their family they admire and why. Get together weekly and take it in turns of sharing each other’s stories. One person per week is to share for a maximum of 15 minutes. You will be amazed by what you learn and by how close and unified the group become.

5. Actively growing – continuous improvement

Once you get to this point, it’s about retaining your talent and ensuring they continue to grow. Maintain a strong focus on points 1-4, and make sure you are always encouraging your people to advance and stretch slightly out of their comfort zone, without pushing them too hard. Continual growth is imperative when it comes to Engagement.

Workplaces are now moving in to more purposeful, heart driven phase and you must always prioritise and nurture the heart before the brain to maintain growth and to build a happy, productive, loyal, highly engaged team around you.

– Richard Maloney, CEO of Quality Mind Global

Richard Maloney is the author of Stress Free – How to Thrive Under Pressure in Unprecedented Times. He is the CEO of Quality Mind Global, an international mindfulness business with over 500 clients in 30+ countries and founder of the #1 employee engagement licensing company in the world, Engage & Grow Global.

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