It’s no mystery that you need to engage employees, but with ‘anytime, anywhere’ work growing, that’s getting harder. No matter the distance, giving employees a sense of progress gets huge results for engagement, says one expert. Here’s how you can connect the dots.
The workplace is steadily becoming more ‘globalised’ – and I don’t mean having offices scattered all over the world, either. Technology has allowed companies to reach beyond previously established borders to engage employees and retain their services. Research from George Washington University in the US forecasts 30 per cent of all workers might work from home at least a few days a week by 2019.
That’s just a few years away.
All of this means companies need to be more creative about how they engage employees. In the book The Engagement Equation: Leadership Strategies for an Inspired Workforce, engagement is defined as “alignment of maximum satisfaction for the individual with maximum contribution for the organisation.” Organisations are now looking at what their employees need and how they can meet those needs while they achieve organisational goals.
These five steps will help increase employee engagement on an ongoing basis, regardless of where employees are located:
1. Link goals for each employee to the big picture
Managers used to decide on goals for employees, but companies are moving away from this practice in favour of a more collaborative approach. Managers and employees should establish goals that clearly define desired behaviours and support organisational objectives. Employees need to know what success looks like for them.
2. Foster a culture of ongoing feedback
In a 2014 Zenger/Folkman study, 72 per cent of respondents indicated that constructive feedback would help improve their performance. Managers shouldn’t avoid feedback, but how it’s delivered makes a big difference when it’s negative. Managers need to hold regular meetings with employees to stay in the loop on staff workload, concerns and successes, as well as personal and professional development.
3. Collaborate with employees on their development
Managers and employees should create a development plan and regularly discuss progress together. This allows the employee the opportunity to share how they want their career to evolve. The manager can provide input and opportunities in the form of training and stretch assignments to help the employee grow the skills they need to achieve their career goals.
4. Simplify ongoing performance management with tools
Managers and employees can get a dashboard view of their performance and development activities by using a talent management platform. These tools also help structure conversations while documenting key information for future reference. Managers who struggle with starting conversations can get help from custom predefined feedback and coaching tips to improve the quality and consistency of feedback.
5. Focus on developing leadership skill of managers
Research from Gallup confirms that the manager-employee relationship has a huge impact on engagement. Good managers have the leadership skills to coach and mentor employees, building accountability and trust along the way. They assign projects that stretch their employees to develop skills and build on their strengths. This creates the opportunity for two-way conversations that invite feedback to the manager from the employee.
Flexibility is a key component to engage employees – now and in the future
People are your organisation’s greatest asset. Organisations that link employee contribution and satisfaction will increase engagement, but it starts with regular, meaningful conversations.
This approach to performance management is more effective for today’s workforce, who want to feel connected to their work, understand how they contribute to the success of their company, and seek opportunities for career development and professional growth.
As the workforce seeks flexible work arrangements and the technology is available to support it, organisations must be prepared to adapt their approach to managing and supporting employee performance to attract, retain and engage top talent.