5 ways to improve employee engagement


According to Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric, the biggest problem for 2016 will be achieving satisfactory "employee engagement, willingness to accept responsibility and willingness to be accountable."

Welch knows what’s he’s talking about. While at the helm of General Electric, he increased profits by 4,000%. One of the reasons behind this success was his decision to fire the bottom 10% of managers each year.

Adopting Welch’s ‘rank and yank’ approach might be too draconian for your business so here are 5 practical steps you can take to improve employee engagement today.

1. Measure engagement

Take a look round your workplace. How many staff come in, do their work and go home? Who approaches every task with boredom? Who regularly says ‘that’s not my job’?

We all have bad days and sometimes events in our personal lives affect our performance at work. However, if these questions are a pretty accurate description of your staff, you may have a problem.

Not all issues can be identified by a quick look round the staffroom. You could consider conducting a test to measure employee engagement. A popular one is the Gallup Q12 which uses 12 multiple choice questions.

Repeating the same test at least every year can identify changes and spot where there’s room for improvement.

2. Set the vision

Explain what you want the company to look and feel like. Individuals are much more likely to put in effort if they know what they are aiming for.

You could get your staff involved in establishing the future vision of the business. This will help them buy in to the concept and avoid the feeling that something’s being forced upon them from above.

3. Establish objectives

Break your vision into goals and link individual objectives to them so that people can see how their actions contribute to the bigger picture.

For example a boutique clothing business might want to increase the number of repeat customers using its online store.

 The person in charge of marketing could be given an objective of setting up personalised emails to existing clients with new offers.

4. Let go

Yes, this contradicts point 1 but people need to have the opportunity to take responsibility.

Taking a step back and allowing staff to make their own decisions will help combat disengagement.

So if you’ve been avoiding taking holiday because you don’t know how your business will cope, book a break now. You may be surprised by how much work gets done without you.  

5. Reward and recognition

Recognise and reward staff when they reach their objectives. This doesn't have to be a big gesture but think creatively about what individuals would appreciate. Options include extra time off, a box of chocolates or even just a thank you.

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