Business leaders who don’t actively seek to engage employees can potentially fail to leverage a key productivity driver.
Recent research suggests that Australian business leaders do not fully understand the needs of Millennial workers, but they do want to hire more of this younger demographic over the next three years.
Clearly, traditional bosses are worried about not engaging with younger workers. A KPMG study suggests it is one of their biggest concerns: 79 per cent of Australian CEOs say they are worried about how Millennials’ differing needs will change the way companies do business.
CEOs need to recognise the importance of engaging with workers. Not only to retain high-performing employees, but to also increase productivity.
Another study by the Harvard Business Review identified key employee engagement drivers as: recognition for high performers; individuals having a clear understanding of how their role contributes to overall strategy; senior leadership continually updating and communicating strategy; and business goals being communicated and understood company-wide.
Engaged employees are more likely to deliver great customer service, which drives increased profits and shareholder returns.
However, simply throwing more communication at employees does not increase engagement; in fact, it can make employees feel more isolated than ever, since it can indicate that the company doesn’t care about them as individuals. It’s critical for organisations to take a more personalised, strategic approach to increasing engagement.
Here are five key tips for business leaders looking to engage with employees:
1. Walk the walk when it comes to leadership
If company leaders want engaged, positive, passionate and energetic employees, they must be willing to demonstrate these qualities themselves.
2. Recognise everybody’s achievements
It’s important to recognise the achievements of staff members whose accomplishments may be less visible than those of front-line employees.
Team lunches, thank you cards or post-it notes, and verbally thanking employees are all effective ways to recognise and appreciate positive contributions.
3. Ensure employees know the value of their contributions
Employees who clearly understand the importance of their individual contributions are more likely to feel appreciated by, and engaged with, their employer.
For example, an employee who prepares equipment for the next shift may save time for the workers on that shift, which translates to increased productivity.
4. Reward and incentivise excellence
Effective work incentives are not always monetary, as there are many alternative ways to reward staff for great work. It’s important to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Creating a quarterly awards event that showcases the achievements of employees who regularly excel can be a fun and motivating way to reward staff and boost morale.
5. Make sure employees understand the business and its brand
The more time and energy employers invest in making sure their workers really understand the company and its brand, the greater the alignment will be between worker and employer.
Regular training and communication between management and staff, emphasising the goals and objectives of the business, can help achieve this.
Rob van Es is the acting CEO of recruitment software provider REFFIND.