Are your employees engaged in their work and consistently productive? If so, they’re in the happy minority of U.S. workers. A recent study by the Dale Carnegie Institute revealed that, of the 1500 employees surveyed, only 29% claim to be “actively engaged,” while 26% are “actively disengaged,” and 45% are not engaged at all. These figures are important not only because $11 billion is lost annually due to employee turnover but because companies with engaged employees are said to outperform those without by up to 202%.
So how can you engage your workforce and make it more productive at the same time?
6 Tips To Engage Your Employees
1. Set realistic and achievable goals. Your employees shouldn’t have to guess what it is you expect of them, nor should they have any confusion about the goals you want them to achieve. Establish goals that correspond to their specific roles (i.e., for the sales team, increase the closing rate by 5% in the next quarter) and hold people accountable for achieving those goals. Set up ongoing meetings to track their progress and offer helpful input.
2. Give employees the tools they need. In today’s workplace, an employer must provide his or her staff with devices and resources they need to get their work done. Such devices typically include a laptop and tablet, smartphone and PDA, access to (and at least rudimentary training in) the most up-to-date apps and software. If your employees are frequently on the road, make sure they have a sophisticated GPS system to efficiently guide their travels.
3. Offer training to build their skills. No one wants to get stuck doing the same thing every day for the rest of their lives. Encourage employees to take courses that expand their skill sets (and, where appropriate, offer financial assistance for them to take these courses). Imagine how much more productive your business will be when employees have enhanced their ability to better communicate, provide better customer service and close sales more frequently.
4. Set a casual tone in the workplace. This doesn’t mean every day has to be “casual Friday.” But a casual, friendly and professional work environment lessens stress and isolation, while helping keep employees’ spirits up. How can you reconfigure the workplace to encourage collaboration and creativity?
5. Make yourself available. The leaders of many small businesses fail to show much interest in their employees’ workdays and private lives. Of course, a great deal of your time is taken up by meetings, phone calls with clients, etc. But people want to feel connected to their leader and it actually requires a fairly small amount of time on your part to make this happen. Keep an open-door policy where employees can come to you with significant challenges and (hopefully) great new revenue-generating ideas. Without going overboard, get to know these individuals enough to ask about their families, weekend plans and so on.
6. Reward and recognize. Some business leaders mistakenly equate “reward” with “pay raise” or “bonuses.” Of course, compensation is an important part of worker productivity–but it’s not the only part. When you take a few minutes to stop by an employee’s desk and praise her for work on a specific project, I promise you–it will make her day. (And boost the spirits of those around her.) What else can you do to recognize outstanding efforts in the office? Look at such options as buying lunch for an employee, giving an afternoon off, handing out movie theater coupons, etc. Little gestures go a long way.
As the Dale Carnegie Institute study shows, engaged employees are enthusiastic about their jobs, confident in their ability to achieve excellence and motivated to have a greater impact on the success of the business.
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