To remain productive and contribute to a positive work environment, employees must be motivated both intrinsically and extrinsically. In other words, they need to be compensated at a competitive rate, but that is not enough.
Employees must also be motivated from within, and while perks like nap rooms or game rooms are great, they are no substitute for the motivation that comes from within employees who genuinely want to make a difference. Your workers want to have a voice, and you can give them that voice via the right employee app.
The engaged workforce actually cares about what they do, how they do it, and the environment in which they and their colleagues spend their days. When they care, they are likelier to take things like safety training more seriously, look out for themselves, and look out for others in the workplace.
Employees Want to Have a Strong Connection with their Workplace
Your employees want to feel connected to their colleagues and managers, but also to the company and their community. Employees who feel isolated, or think that nobody has their back have little reason to put themselves forward when, for example, they are needed to cover for a sick employee or volunteer for overtime.
The sense of connectedness is trickier now that work teams may be scattered all over the globe, but that does not mean connectedness is impossible. Connectedness should run throughout the organization, but it should start at the top. Management must communicate core values to the workforce, engaging them one-on-one regularly, whether in person or via technology.
Connectedness should extend to teams, both among the individuals that make up the teams and among different teams. Teams should not operate in silos, but should have opportunities to collaborate with other teams in positive ways, without creating “turf wars.” Such a sense of connectedness requires trust, which is built on consistent, transparent communication at all levels.
Everyone Wants to Know Their Work Matters
All employees have the occasional off day when they may ask themselves, “Why am I doing this?” The norm, however, should be a workplace where each person knows why he or she is there, and what purpose he or she serves. Young adults, in particular, will not stick around if their work does not match their values, or if they do not feel as if their skills are being used in positive ways.
Meaningfulness in work has an enormous impact on employee engagement levels, and it is no mystery why. If you go to work every day with a sense of meaning and purpose, you are likelier to stick with your employer and to be more satisfied with what you do. The feeling of connecting with a purpose bigger than oneself is essential to personal and professional fulfillment.
How can employers consistently assure employees that their work matters? One way is to periodically share the ways your employees improve customer or client lives. Testimonials are great, as is the occasional “field trip” to see the fruits of their work in action. Encouraging employees themselves to recognize great work is important too. Many times, a simple and sincere “Thank you!” can impart meaning to an otherwise lackluster day.
They Want to See the Fruits of their Labor
Suppose you are a songwriter. What could be more satisfying than seeing people singing along and dancing to a song you wrote? Obviously, not everyone’s work product lends itself to that type of satisfaction in a job well done, but it is still important for employees to see outcomes. Management needs to be involved in this. If an employee or team develops a piece of equipment that allows for easy transfer of awkwardly-shaped products, say, or if someone develops a software app that turns a 10-step process into a two-step process, seeing it in action can be immensely satisfying.
The simple act of walking past a storage tank and knowing, “I designed the ladder they are using on that,” or watching a customer’s eyes light up due to a superior service experience can be remarkably powerful as a driver of employee engagement.
Employees Need to Feel Appreciated
Finally, employees simply need to feel appreciated. Your company may hand out annual bonuses, but appreciation means more than this. Targeted appreciation (“Fantastic job debugging that inventory code, Allison!”) packs tremendous power, and not only for the person on the receiving end. The act of expressing sincere thanks is psychologically beneficial too.
When you thank someone sincerely, you are performing a selfless act, letting someone know he or she is appreciated without asking for anything in return. There is a sense of catharsis with thanking the person who made your job easier, or who handled that difficult customer with grace and dignity.
In an environment where people are used to expressing gratitude, a positive cycle often develops. People love to “pay it forward,” and although there may be the occasional curmudgeon who refuses to thank others, most people are happy to spread positivity in this way.
Set Clear Expectations During the Onboarding Process
You want a workforce that is engaged, but how do you create an engaged workforce? It has to be an organization-wide effort, and it needs to be something toward which everyone is consciously working. On the individual level, it starts with how you bring new employees on board. The process should be standardized so that no critical steps are omitted, yet your new employee should not feel abandoned to a mound of paperwork with little help or explanation.
This can be done in a number of different ways. For example, assigning a colleague to help shepherd a new employee through his or her first day may work well, or you may have specific HR people who focus on the onboarding process to help it go smoothly and make the new person feel welcome.
However you approach the new employee onboarding process, the outcome should be that a new hire goes home after the first day believing he or she made the right decision accepting the job and looking forward to getting up to speed and reaching full productivity.
Facilitate a Sense of Ownership of Work Among Employees
While a new employee should not feel abandoned to tasks for which he or she is unprepared, neither should established employees feel as if they are being micromanaged. When employees know that you trust them to do their work, they develop a sense of ownership over what they do. Tremendous satisfaction is the result of being handed a task or assignment, knowing you are trusted to do it right, completing it, and knowing your work was of value.
By contrast, when employees do not feel as if the company trusts them or if they feel as if every tiny step they take toward accomplishing a task is being scrutinized and found wanting, eventually they will wonder why they bother trying to do more than the absolute minimum. Nobody wants to feel like just another gear in a complicated machine that can be replaced at any time.
Invest in Training and Talent Development
When people complain about having to attend a training program, they are generally not complaining about training as a concept, but about watching an endless PowerPoint deck in a boring classroom so someone can check a box certifying that they underwent training.
Learning theory, neuroscience, and psychology have all made big advances just over the past decade, so there is no excuse (including budgetary excuses) for dull training that may not even be effective.
Training should have a positive return on investment, and with all the technological options for training today, that ROI can be faster and greater than ever. The employee who has undergone effective, enjoyable training approaches work with a sense of confidence and mastery, and this feeds into the sense of ownership and pride they take in work.
Likewise, talent development should be a priority. People need to know about opportunities for advancement or lateral transfers that would tap into their unique skills and strengths. Nobody wants to feel stuck in a position or department.
Allow for Two-Way Communication and Feedback
In an earlier era, the top executives often resembled the Almighty, in that they were “invisible and omnipotent.” Things have changed, however. Nobody expects the CEO of a huge corporation to know the names of all 10,000 employees, but that does not mean that those at the top should be removed from the frontline workers who make it all possible. The executive who only comes out of his or her lair to issue directives or complain is an ineffective executive and is not likely to have an engaged workforce.
However large or small a company is, there is simply no excuse for lack of communication and feedback, in multiple directions. Naturally, a manager is expected to step in when the team has a problem, but even when things are ticking along nicely, that manager should offer clear communication and constructive feedback. Sometimes a simple, “Thanks, Carl!” will do. Other times, communication may flow through the company newsletter or social network. The important thing is that everyone, at all levels, believes that their voice matters and will be listened to. Otherwise, why should they bother listening to impersonal directives barked from “on high”?
Measure What You Want to Improve
Do not make the mistake of thinking that employee engagement cannot be measured because it can. In fact, just as you record metrics for things like quarterly sales and profit margins, so should you measure and track employee engagement. Exactly how you track employee engagement will probably be unique to your organization, but typically it involves keeping up with factors like employee turnover, safety violation rates, and the ease of putting together project teams.
Since you implemented the new employee onboarding program, have employee retention rates increased? Did the training program you provided for your sales team result in higher revenues the following quarter? You cannot ignore such measures if you want to develop and maintain an engaged workforce.
How the Right Employee Engagement App Serves Your Organization
Did you know that you can work on all aspects of employee engagement via a customized employee app? Your employees already use apps all the time in their personal lives, and many of them use apps on the job as well. Implementing an employee app for the purpose of increasing engagement makes perfect sense too.
Imagine your new employee using the engagement app to work through the onboarding process. Maybe he earns “points” or levels up as he completes different tasks, culminating in earning a gift card once it is all done. Or suppose you use your employee engagement app to provide training on a new product your sales team will be promoting. You could use an employee app for sending and receiving feedback, or you could use an employee app to organize the company picnic. There is really no aspect of employee engagement that cannot be addressed effectively with a mobile employee app.
What is even better is that employee apps can track metrics and provide analytics automatically, so you will know which teams are collaborating on your new product, how well everyone did on their safety training, and how many people know about the new retirement plan option.
HubEngage offers your organization a fully customized platform for employee app development designed with employee engagement as a goal. You can customize your employee app with branding and carefully curated content and deliver surveys, provide training, and even make it fun through gamification.
The possibilities are almost limitless, and hubEngage takes care of data collection and analytics for you. In other words, you can both take steps to have a more engaged workforce and actually measure how much more engaged your workforce is. Best of all, you can try the hubEngage app for free and see for yourself what a powerful tool it can be in creating the engaged, motivated, committed workforce your company needs to excel and grow.