Three Ways to Keep Employees Engaged
With so many options to boost employee engagement, it can be overwhelming for small business owners to know how to develop an engaged workforce.
While many think that more money will lead to higher employee satisfaction, that is not always the case, and employees want a little more to feel passionate about the work they are doing. Below are three tips that you can easily implement into your employee engagement action plan that focus on more than financial gains.
Set Expectations for Growth
For many individuals, it’s common to want to increase job roles and responsibilities and find ways to grow their careers. Depending on the industry and job, this growth can look very different. As a small business owner, to attract and retain talent, you’re going to want to have a plan in place to help your employees grow. When an employee has been doing the same job for years, with changes far and few between, it’s natural that they will reach a little burnout and stop being as engaged in the work they are doing. They know what to expect each day, and while they may not mind the work they are doing, it may not be exciting enough to keep them engaged. Whether you have these conversations during performance reviews or schedule weekly check-ins, it’s important to talk to your employees to see what they are looking for career-wise. For business owners in the restaurant or retail industries, choosing long-term employees to be trainers or assistant managers can be a way to boost their job responsibilities and develop leadership skills. Other business owners may be able to offer promotions and create brand new roles to help employees foster new skills. Growth will look different for each employee, which is why checking in on their goals and communicating is helpful.
Additionally, it’s important to give deadlines to these growth goals. Your employees will want to know what they are working towards so be sure to provide them with a timeline as to when they may expect their new role to become official. With checkpoints along the way, it will be easy to measure performance and engagement. While we have discussed that employee engagement isn’t always all about the money, with a new role usually comes a bump in salary, so be prepared to set those expectations with your employee as well.
Strengthen Team Bonds
In some cases, people are spending more time with coworkers than they are with friends and family. Because of this, you want your team to gel and work well together. When employees are working in hostile or uncomfortable work environments, it can lead to disengaged workers. While the point of work is to get work done and provide desirable business outcomes, it doesn’t all have to be intense with a sole focus on getting the job done. It’s important to create a work environment that encourages having fun with each other, while still being productive. Perhaps you have weekly team meetings and take a moment in each meeting to recognize the hard work everyone is doing, or you set aside quarterly team bonding days where you all can get away from work and enjoy some time with each other. Sometimes employees cringe at the thought of “forced fun” so get their input on activities they would enjoy as a team. These bonds can lead to your employees feeling more connected to the business, which is a win-win for everyone involved.
There may come a time when you face a business interruption, such as a natural disaster or outbreak, like COVID-19. During those times of business uncertainty, your employees will likely be anxious and unsure about what is happening. Do your best to offer support and communicate with them about everything that is going on. You want them to know that you have their best interests at heart and will do what you can to keep things running smoothly.
During regular business times, support may look like offering employee benefits such as health insurance, paid vacation and sick days, or a 401(k) option. There are also benefits you could considering offering, depending on your business, like flex time, work from home opportunities, tuition reimbursement, or free coffee and snacks. Part of employee engagement is showing your employees that you support them and care about their well-being outside of your business.
Employee engagement is something that can spiral out of control and start so subtly you may not even realize you have an actively disengaged employee. While there isn’t a universal fix for boosting employee engagement, there are plenty of ways to measure employee engagement and work to create an engaged workforce. When you’re feeling lost, employee engagement surveys can be a great place to start to gauge how your employees are feeling. The easiest way to stay ahead of disengagement is to talk with your employees frequently and strive to provide a supportive and welcoming business.