How to communicate so you can improve Employee Engagement

Engaging with your Employees

In June 2020 Robert Glazer Forbes Magazine wrote that “Even before COVID-19 hit, companies were experiencing engagement issues. Research from Gallup  found that while employee engagement peaked in 2019, 52 percent of workers fell into the “not engaged” category”. He goes on to say that employees who are psychologically unattached, would contribute the minimum required, and would be on the lookout for an alternative employer. Communication is a major component of employees feeling connected to the organisation and a part of the team to solve the problem.

Employees who aren’t engaged, who show up for work but are mentally checked out, are the ones who can harm your business most.

Regardless of the size of the business, having an honest and open relationship with your staff builds loyalty and creates trust (both ways). Nothing has really changed on this front for many years, it’s just the application of this with the communication tools available as new generations roll through the world of employment (as employers and employees).

Here are a few principles that I believe make for a satisfying Employee Engagement.

Be very clear of the relationship between Employer and Employee.

It’s very important that you are clear on this relationship so that when it comes time to provide feedback you’re not compromised or have a bias. This is particularly difficult when you want to be ‘friends’ with your employees or co-workers and ‘liked’ is more important than ‘respected’.

The best analogy I can give here is being a Parent. Your relationship with your children is based on love. Sometimes you are proud of them, sometimes disappointed. As they grow up your relationship with them evolves from being an educator through show and tell to one of being a mentor and guide with a hands-off approach to decision making (as hard as that is to do and to sometimes).

As a Manager or Employer, so goes the relationship with your staff. You need to be able to divorce yourself from the emotion and be objective. You still value and care for them, but you also need to be able to provide them with performance feedback that is not clouded by emotion.

I have a whole section in my Leadership Masterclass devoted to this important subject.

Beware of the Time Vampire

Nothing is less engaging than an endless stream of meaningless meetings or monologues. Saying NO to meetings is one of the most powerful tools you can have in your employee engagement arsenal.

If you must have meetings, have a specific outcome in mind, have a strict agenda, send out readings plenty of time before the meeting and ask for comments (this will drive the Agenda), have a realistic and set timeframe for the meeting, have specific action steps and timeframes with accountabilities during and after the meeting, and a scribe who takes notes for distribution. In the world of video conferencing we can now record these for distribution. You will have far more employee engagement with contribution if they see a point to any activity

Allow Employees time for creativity.

We all get into the habit of racing to get things done, and I’m sure we have all be given advice at some point to “slow down to speed up”. Many have taken to meditation, mindfulness, day-dreaming, playtime, downtime, mid-day nana nap. These are all designed to slow down your brain to allow it space to be creative and find solutions.

I’ve often been stuck in a problem and the more I focus, the deeper I sink. I walk away, get some fresh air, do something different, (my favourite is to have a nap at two in the afternoon) and I come back and the answer is there right in front of me. It was there all along, but the fog was in the way.

Make it a KPI that your employees HAVE TO provide an idea to improve their area, or someone else’s area. No judgement on the quality of the idea or the size of the perceived problem. You will be amazed at the crazy ideas that people can come up with, but one or more of them will be a nugget of gold.

Sources: Robert Glazer Forbes Magazine; Research from Gallup

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