How many times have you heard your managers complain that employees on their teams just don’t seem to be focused on their jobs?
If you’re like most Human Resource directors and department heads, the answer is quite a bit.
An engaged employee—one who is fully focused on and enthusiastic about his or her work—is a rare commodity these days.
Recent statistics from Gallup’s semi-annual Employment Engagement Index are disheartening: only 29% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs; 54% are not engaged, sort of sleepwalking through their day; 17% are actively disengaged, undermining their employers.
Mark C. Crowley, former Senior Vice President at Washington Mutual, likens it to competitive rowing:
To fully comprehend these grim stats, imagine a crew team out on the Potomac River where three people are rowing their hearts out, five are taking in the scenery, and two are trying to sink the boat. It’s hard to conceive how businesses can thrive when so few people are working to move it forward.
Just as it takes clear and effective communication for a crew team to fully engage, your leaders and managers can increase engagement with employees by focusing on better team communication.
Better team communication doesn’t simply mean talking more. Not at all.
Share these 6 top communication practices with your leaders and managers to empower them and increase employee engagement:
1. Communicate clearly and often. Gallup has found that engagement is highest among employees who have some form of daily communication with their managers. Those leaders who utilize a combination of face-to-face, phone, and electronic communication tend to be most successful.
And while clear expectations around job performance is critical, employees also place high value on communication from their manager about what happens in their lives outside of work. The best managers make the effort to get to know their employees and help them feel comfortable sharing about any subject, work-related or not.
2. Welcome development conversations. All employees, especially millennials, value the opportunity to grow and develop their careers. If these employees do not feel comfortable approaching their managers asking to learn more, they may feel it necessary to look for growth opportunities elsewhere.
Managers can promote engagement by proactively initiating and welcoming development conversations. They can invite frequent coaching conversations to discover each employee’s interests and better provide ongoing development. In this way, leaders can assure employees recognize their potential for advancement within the company.
3. Be clear with performance expectations. Gallup’s Q12 research reveals that clear expectations are vital to performance. Employees need more than written job descriptions to fully understand their roles.
Managers who frequently talk with their employees about their responsibilities and progress, rather than saving these critical conversations for once-a-year performance reviews, excel at developing more productive, profitable, and creative contributors.
4. Help your employees connect with one another. Relationships hold any company together, so why not help employees build healthy relationships within company guidelines? Create space for connection. Use social media to expand opportunities. Offer volunteer or community service opportunities where employees can connect around a shared cause.
5. Encourage networking. “Encouraging your employees to network with others (both inside and outside of your organization) is a great way to help them focus on building their careers, all the while helping them to be more engaged in their current roles.”# There are countless ways to network in today’s world: look at the popularity of social media and professional networks, such as LinkedIn, and it becomes crystal clear just how much focus is placed on networking in today’s society.
In addition to encouraging your employees to utilize these services for outside networking, consider sending your employees to trade shows, conferences, workshops, educational talks—events where they can learn something which will not only satisfy their desire to grow, but will ultimately benefit your company.
6. Recognize employee accomplishments in ways that matter to them. How do you want to be recognized for doing something great at work? Chances are, not everyone wants to be recognized in the same way. Consider sending a fun survey in which you ask employees their preferences. If feasible, get to know people on your team so you know how to applaud them in a way that matters to them, not you.
The best way to keep from stepping on other people’s toes is to put yourself in their shoes.
People are an appreciating asset only if you are willing to invest in team communication with them. When your managers proactively communicate with their team, they lay the foundation for greater productivity—and increased employee engagement.