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Getting employees engaged

Most business leaders recognise the importance of having sound HR and employment practices– yet when their business is battling in difficult economic times, it is often good people management practices that get overlooked. Whilst customers, suppliers or bank managers make all the noise, employees will often carry on quietly without making the same fuss. They may be frustrated and they may even grumble at the photo-copier or over lunch, but they will rarely do more than that. Usually, what happens instead is that they just become a bit less enthusiastic, they become reluctant to 'go the extra mile' and are more likely to spend time focused on things other than the job in hand. We have all seen the signs:

Before long business performance falls and results tail off, turnover rises and people with essential knowledge and skills leave. Research shows that the performance of a business will vary by 20 to 30%, depending on how engaged employees really are.

So what can you do about it? Here are 10 tips, which all companies and managers can follow:

10 tips on keeping employees engaged

  1. Provide working conditions that are as good as they can be. Remember, little things count.
  2. Make sure (don't assume) your employees understand exactly what the business is trying to achieve, what the priorities and how the business is performing right now. Give everyone an understanding of how their work contributes.
  3. Support your employee's learning – not necessarily on training courses – 80% of learning is done informally, from other people in the business, often on-the-job.
  4. Create short-term targets which are achievable, monitor performance and celebrate successes. Make sure that you can resolve priority conflicts quickly and decisively.
  5. Manage all employees fairly, consistently and without favoritism (obviously this applies to pay and progression, but it should run through everything you do).
  6. Challenge things that aren't right, whether that is individual performance or the way teams are working together.
  7. Make it the job of everyone in the business to find ways to improve.
  8. Invite people to comment, to contribute and to feedback. In particular, listen to what customers are saying.
  9. Get the basics of people management right – have regular one-to-one conversations that enable you or your managers to get to know employees and tackle the difficulties they are facing.
  10. Create a 'buzz' around the place. That may mean organising fun events – more often than not, it just means showing a sense of humour.

And now, ask yourself:

How are you doing on each of these ten things? Perhaps more importantly, how would your employees say you are doing? Do you need to take action in some areas? Would some external guidance help you to decide what needs to be done straight-away?

Chrysalis Performance can help you develop and maintain the engagement of employees in the success of your business. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your experiences in this area and discussing practical steps which would help.

Posted by Ian Williams - 2009-10-22