According to a recent Gallup poll, only 34% of the American workforce feel engaged in the workplace. The Engagement Institute estimates that disengaged employees can cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion every year. Fortunately, improving employee engagement doesn’t have to be an overwhelming challenge. Here are three essential tips to get you started, each of which can result in a more productive and engaged workforce.
1. Be an Example for Your Team
As a manager, CEO, or other person in a leadership position, few things can have quite as profound an impact on employee engagement as setting an example for the entire team. Successful leaders are those who are willing to get their hands dirty, asking as much of themselves as they do of their staff. They strive to make themselves available and create clear lines of communication throughout every level of the organization. Leaders are most respected when they work alongside and listen to their teams, rather than passing each week behind closed doors. Exemplifying the qualities you’re looking to get out of your staff will almost certainly cause a ripple effect.
Tip: Good health and fitness are often overlooked. But, according to the American Heart Association, employees feel it’s important for their managers to set a healthy example. Leaders who take care of themselves have more energy and help to encourage a healthier workforce, beneficial for employees and employers alike.
2. Offer a Comprehensive Benefits Package
Securing great talent and keeping your employees happy means offering something more than competing employers. One way to do so is to provide a comprehensive benefits package. Options for retirement, health, and vacation time can all go a long way with the modern professional. For some, benefits may even be higher on the list of importance than salary. MetLife’s annual benefit trends study found that 74% of employees say customized benefits are important when considering a job offer; and 72% state having individualized employee benefits would increase their loyalty to their current employer.
Tip: Disability insurance is an often undervalued add-on to a benefits package that can sway great talent in your direction, while also protecting your company’s investment. One in four of today’s 20 year-olds will become disabled before they retire, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration. An insured employee is protected from the risk of complete income loss, and often able to recover and return to work.
3. Encourage Autonomy
Some employees are happy to simply follow directions and a set schedule throughout the day—many even thrive off of this degree of structure. Others, however, prefer a more autonomous work environment, in which they’re given the space and flexibility they need to get the job done. Research shows that when employees are given the freedom associated with autonomy, job satisfaction increases, along with productivity. Some may wish to work from home on occasion, while others may find a flexible schedule allows them to be more efficient. By working with your employees and helping them settle into a groove that suits both their needs and those of the organization, you’ll effectively be creating a more engaged and committed team, increasing happiness and productivity, while decreasing turnover.
Tip: It is possible to offer too much autonomy. Success depends on an appropriate level of oversight; too little direction from management may be seen as disorganization, rather than freedom.
Great leaders want their teams to succeed. After all, success for employees means success for the employer. Making staff feel engaged and appreciated leads to greater productivity, satisfaction, and ultimately a more successful business.