Growth is inherent in all life. People, as a part of life, are no different. They desire more. They want an increase in knowledge and experience; increase in wealth and prosperity; to be more, to feel more… We also believe that people, deep down, innately desire an increase in their engagement with their careers and their workplace, so that they can derive a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from their efforts. So, let us inquire just how to increase employee engagement!
How do we as leaders facilitate an increase in employee engagement – not just to drive our bottom line, but so that our workplaces can be genuinely meaningful and exciting environments for people to be spending the majority of their waking hours?
Figuring out this question will increase employee engagement at your company in a fundamental way, and if you are successful, you may evolve your culture upward, toward increases in retention, profits, efficiency and competitiveness.
Everything, including employee engagement, increases or decreases in response to what we feed it. And following this food metaphor, we can feed employee engagement with high-fat fast food for a short-term fix… or nourishing protein and healthy veggies for the long-term.
Here are a few guidelines that we consider to be part of the “nourishing protein and veggies” that feeds full employee engagement:
Treat Each Human Being Employed At Your Company As Your Most Valuable Asset
It is definitely true that not all employee contributions are equal… the only issue is that it isn’t necessarily obvious who is “most valuable.” Remember from an earlier article that not knowing we don’t know (i.e. thinking we know) is our greatest liability and greatest opportunity. Therefore we can’t dismiss anyone at our company – because we should assume that locked inside each person’s heart and mind are extremely important ideas and insights.
Perks and rewards are great, but an even more effective way to treat each person at your company as your most valuable asset is to get truly curious about their input and what they have to say about all aspects of your business.
Therefore, bring your people together for an open forum on the company and the company direction.
Facilitate Strong Connections Among Your People
Once senior leadership has opened up a forum for everyone in the company to share their views and perspectives on the company, the business, the company culture, think of regular or semi-regular meetings that could be established to facilitate connection and ideation among your people.
It has been noted that people generally take care of their pets better than they do themselves – so establish bonds among people so they will desire to go to the mat for each other and make sacrifices for each other. Encourage them to take personal responsibility for each other and the team’s success. Human beings are capable of full engagement and truly awe-inspiring achievements when in service to others.
Belonging to a community of people is a fundamental human need, so do whatever you can to facilitate a culture where authentic and deep connections among people are the norm.
Let Your People Come Into Alignment
With a foundation of interpersonal bonds, trust and openness, your people are primed to create something together. While they are creating all kinds of outputs as a result of their daily working activities, now you have a unique opportunity to offer them a chance to co-create the culture at your company. Not just the what you are all doing, but the how and why you are all showing up to work every day to do it.
Bring your people in to discuss what kind of company culture they desire. At FOX, we came up with “an open and collaborative culture where creativity and innovation thrive.” Let your people, including senior leadership, create your organization’s mission statement.
A mission statement about the culture everyone is striving toward through their work serves as true north, and as a reference point when times get busy and stressful. It informs not only the work you do and the projects that get started, but how everyone is engaging. In other words, it is a banner around which everyone can rally… and return to if they get lost in the weeds.
Engaging your people in the ways described above is not only a vehicle for showing you care about them, but also an affirmation of your belief in their best selves. As you undertake this path toward robust employee engagement, remember that there is certainly nothing wrong with just throwing a big party to show your workforce you appreciate them. After all, people need to relax and be more informal around each other – and their achievements must be celebrated too!
At the same time, consider that more enduring cultural change and the winning of hearts and minds occurs by the light of day, when people are invited to the table to contribute their voices to a big, bold conversation in the name of a common cause and vision.
After all, for most of us, we don’t necessarily desire more ease and pleasure, but more meaning, connection, and satisfying engagement with life. And time and again, people who are engaged like this not only DON’T fear challenges, but are motivated to proactively tackle them.
We hope these ideas for increasing employee engagement have been helpful. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss some ideas for eliciting your employees’ voices and contributions, and increasing company-wide engagement at your organization.