How to Increase Employee Engagement in an Organization

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on September 26, 2014

It’s a well-known fact that fully or highly engaged employees form the best and most valuable assets that an organization can ever possess. But unfortunately, several factors lead to an engagement gap and employees end up performing below the expectation level instead of delivering superior performance in spite of probably having the potential for the same. Since engaged employees means heightened organizational performance, it is imperative that an organization take concrete steps to foster this culture of engagement.

The first step towards this will be to garner every possible information about the employees – know about their skills, abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and interests, what motivates them and what puts them off, what concerns or grievances they have, their career aspirations etc. Only when the organization is equipped with relevant information, it can take further steps towards increasing the engagement level.  How to gather all these information?

Following steps can be useful:

  1. Conducting informal sessions with employees to encourage them to open up and communicate freely about their aspirations, problems, grievances etc.
  2. A free and open communication can only be encouraged when absolute confidentiality of the communications is maintained.
  3. Listening to employees with patience and empathy also goes a long way in putting employees at ease and encouraging them in sharing their thoughts frankly.
  4. Conducting periodic surveys on various relevant topics can help in checking the pulse of the employees.
  5. Regular feedback must be sought from employees about their work, career aspects and other organizational features. Often, allowing maintaining anonymity while giving feedback can help in eliciting honest responses from employees.
  6. Stay interviews and exit interviews can act as rich source of information.
  7. Taking quick steps to address the employees’ grievances or to mitigate their dissatisfaction will spread the message that opening up about issues is indeed fruitful. This too will encourage more communication from employees.

Once an organization has enough information about its employees, it’s time to take an active interest in their growth and development. Investment in growing the human resources should be perceived as a long term investment that can yield the best possible results in future. To develop the employees, a sincere interest needs to be taken in the employees’ overall well being. They should be made to feel that the organization cares about them and is equally concerned about their growth.

  • If employees are lacking in some specific skills, or suffering from deficiencies that are addressable through training, relevant training needs to be designed for them to assist them in becoming a better performer.
  • Trainings given to enhance the existing skill set or to impart some new skills also help towards careers advancement of the employees.
  • Employees need to be given regular guidance to help them in planning their career paths in their desired directions and in keeping track of the progress made in that direction.
  • Regular feedback about performance can help employees in rectifying their shortcomings at early stages. Giving feedback on a weekly or monthly basis should be seen as a wise investment of time and effort that can minimize the chances of errors and poor performance from employees.
  • Assigning challenging and exciting tasks to those employees who look for it is a great way of honing and enhancing their skills.
  • Monotony in work should be broken through techniques like job rotation, job enrichment etc.

Growing employees is not enough for engaging them. Concrete steps need to be taken to inspire them to deliver consistent superior performance. Immediate supervisors, managers, senior management, organizational policies and decisions – all of them can serve as sources of inspiration:

  1. If supervisors or managers themselves set high personal standards and demonstrate how they are putting in extra efforts for achieving success and how they are holding themselves accountable for any underachievement or poor performance, it can create a strong impression on the mind of employees and encourage them to follow the same path.
  2. Some employees may feel proud to work for an organization that is concerned about social issues, acknowledges its obligation towards the underprivileged section of the society and is socially responsible. So, enhancing an organization’s reputation for social responsibility is also one option. Employees should also be encouraged to be an active part of the CSR activities.
  3. Strictly defining the ways of doing a task can kill creativity and innovation, and over time it can lead to stagnation of ideas. The ideal way to inspire innovation is to define the destination, but to allow the employees the freedom in choosing the path to reach that destination. It implies encouraging the employees to bring in innovative approaches to solve the given problem.
  4. Having provision for flexible working hours which can be availed by employees when they need it, acts a good way of motivating employees. It gives the employees the impression that the organization cares for them, understands their issues, and has ways to help them in their hours of need. It’s a supportive environment, not a restrictive one. If an employee gets exempted from working at a certain time owing to his pressing needs, he is definitely going to give his best at the time of carrying out the work.
  5. In line with the previous point, fostering a work environment that promotes a healthy work-life balance will also motivate employees.

Another great way of motivation or inspiration is through the rewards and recognitions.

  1. Any good work or even a sincere effort needs to be recognised and praised the moment it’s exhibited. The praise and recognition shown in front of others is even more helpful in boosting the morale of the employee. It also encourages other employees to strive to show a praise-deserving performance.
  2. When a project sees success, the credit should be apportioned to all the team members, and they need to be genuinely thanked for their contributions.
  3. Organizations can start schemes like “Best Employee of The Month”, “Spot Award for Spectacular Performance” etc.
  4. The market standard needs to be analyzed, the competitors’ and peer groups’ compensation policies need to be studied, and a suitable compensation scheme including incentives and benefits need to be designed. The compensation scheme needs to be such that it rewards high performers, helps to attract and retain talents and yet does not unnecessarily increase the cost of compensation. Employees can also be rewarded with surprise bonuses or occasional gifts as a gesture of appreciation by the organization.
  5. To foster a supportive environment, organization can come up with schemes that reward team performance, or particular supportive attitudes shown by an employee.
  6. Biases and unequal treatment need to be done away with while rewarding and recognizing employees’ efforts. Personal likes and dislikes should never cloud one’s judgement.
  7. Though all the above steps aim at increasing the involvement of employees in their jobs, some specific steps remain to be taken that can actively involve the employees and generate a feeling of belongingness for them:
  8. Any decision-making should be done after soliciting inputs and opinions from all concerned employees. All those inputs are to be analysed and assessed without any bias and the best ones used to drive the decision-making process.
  9. To create the feeling of belongingness, relations with superiors and peers need to be strengthened. This can be done through informal feedback sessions, informal gatherings, meetings, team building activities etc.
  10. Doubts about promotion and increment policy, and other organizational policies need to be clarified so that employees are clear about what to expect from the organization and when, in lieu of their performance, and how the quality of their performance is going to play a decisive factor in what they get.
  11. Organizational goals and objectives, the strategic decisions that it makes – all need to be communicated to all employees. This will make each employee feel important and valued. If the strategic decisions taken can have significant impact on the employees, then their opinions should also be taken into account.

All these steps are essential for bridging the engagement gap in an organization and creating a pool of highly engaged individuals, but they are not enough. Steps vary depending on the organization nature and culture and type of management. Each organization must attempt to find out which action plan suits it and its employees best. With an appropriate action plan in place, it’s not at all a herculean task for an organization to improve the level of engagement of its employees. Sincere intention of doing so is all that counts!

The article has been authored by Priyanka Biswas, XIM, Bhuwaneshwar

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