As an internal corporate trainer and learning consultant I have often been faced with the challenge of coming up with a training session or workshop meant to “make people happier about their jobs”. This usually occurred when some unpopular change was happening in the organization, when targets went up or when market conditions lead to decreased bonuses.
Basically, training was required as a quick fix for more or less justified dissatisfaction.
It never worked for more than a couple of days because trainers (me included) are not entertainers and because whatever generated the negative feelings did not go away with a workshop.
Learning is indeed paramount to employee engagement but its function is to sustain a positive attitude not to mend things that have gone awry.
Engagement comes on a spectrum
In order to make the right decisions about what to do regarding employee engagement, it’s crucial for HR professionals to be aware that in this respect there are actually three categories of workers:
- Engaged employees — are those who genuinely love what they do. They take complete responsibility and ownership of their tasks and are proud of and loyal to the organization. They are the people who should be enrolled in leadership development programs.
- Not engaged employees — are those who feel all right about what they do but stick to the requirements and don’t have any enthusiasm for their projects. They are with a company mainly because the benefits suit them and they feel comfortable there, not because they adhere to its mission or values. With the right approach, this type of worker can become engaged.
- Disengaged employees — are the ones I have mentioned before; they are more or less disgruntled, do not believe in the company’s mission and values (or they regard them as a hypocritical front for sheer profit gain) and spread negativity by constantly complaining and opposing every new idea or project. It is highly unlikely to convert this crowd into engaged employees.
4 Things that help boost employee engagement
There are several factors that can have a positive impact on employee engagement:
A good organizational infrastructure
A good organizational infrastructure is the first step in ensuring people will feel engaged and bring all their enthusiasm to work. Chaos works against any kind of harmony so for new employees to feel like they are in a good place where they can genuinely make a contribution everything has to be in the right place. They ought to be given the right tools to work with, have clear procedures and know very well what the goals are and why it is important to achieve them.
Read more: https://blog.matrixlms.com/3-ways-in-which-onboarding-is-key-to-employee-retention/
Since employee productivity is key in any enterprise, it is crucial to constantly update the processes and the means by which they can be completed. That’s why it is wise to keep an eye on technological advancements and take into account that constant investments will need to be made in order to be up to speed and provide the best available tools that will ensure increased efficiency.
A great onboarding process
Since we are on the subject of new employees, engagement should start with the onboarding process. There is no better time to get people really pumped up about the company than on induction day. It’s when expectations are set and when people are most open to information.
I remember when I started out with a telecom company and some thirty minutes into the presentation we were shown a promotional video that made a comparison between the company being innovative and various famous personalities who were first in their fields (Charlie Chaplin, Muhammad Ali, Neil Armstrong). The video itself was nice but when we were told that all the people who appeared in it and the people holding the image rights of those who were no longer living agreed to be in it free of charge, we really felt like we were in the right place. If those amazing individuals felt all right to be associated with this organization, we felt proud to be part of it.
Read more: Exploring the onboarding process
A healthy work-life balance
Moving on to employees who have been with the company for a longer period of time, they may need to feel valued not only as workers but also as unique individuals. Regardless of how nice and open an organizational culture might be, after a while people will start feeling stressed and distressed.
This is when promoting a good work-leisure balance and focusing on the individual’s well-being matters more than everything (including compensation).
There is a wide array of possibilities when it comes to this matter. Some people will appreciate shorter workdays, extra vacation time or the possibility to work remote. Others will enjoy team-buildings, outdoor activities (organized by the company), various clubs or personal development workshops.
It’s important to keep this aspect in focus since the younger demographics value their time and positive feelings more than anything else. It’s also good to have surveys from time to time in order to find out what employees would like to be offered.
A solid recognition system
All employees, regardless of how long they have been with the company or how hard they have been recently working, enjoy having their achievements recognized. Older workers might still go for a congratulatory email while younger ones will surely enjoy some type of digital badge or having their name up on a leaderboard.
This doesn’t mean that managers and team leaders should just pat everybody on their backs just for doing what they are supposed to do. Recognition is about keeping an eye out for genuine effort and commitment and publicly commending those who display them.
Engaged employees are not only those who see the purpose of the organization, believe in and work for it. They are also those who feel like they are appreciated and deemed important in the big view of things.
While formal recognition is still widely preferred, it’s also the small encouragement and verbal acknowledgments of peers and superiors that have a tremendous positive impact on engagement.
All in all
Engaged employees will stay longer, work better and promote a positive attitude and culture. Organizations should invest in programs that build and support engagement if they want to be successful in the long term.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.