Our tumultuous economic climate is forcing many business owners to make many tough choices. But the bottom-line to remaining competitive is to stay committed to investing in your most important asset: your employees.
Studies show that only 30 percent of employees are actually engaged at work. Of course, no two employees come to work for the exact same reasons – while one may be driven to become your organization’s next CEO, the other might like that their role enables them to strike their ideal work-life balance.
So how do you keep all of your employees inspired and willing to give your firm their absolute best all the time? How do you keep a diverse team of individuals engaged when each one is focused on their own set of motivators?
One of the most critical activities managers and employers can do to increase employee engagement is to make a point of meeting with each team member individually to ensure that their needs are being met. Even a few minutes of one-on-one time each week to discuss personal goals and concerns can uncover valuable insight into what drives your employees and what keeps them excited to be working for you. Simple praise and encouragement is often the thing that motivates us the most, even though it takes so little time and costs nothing.
In addition to opening lines of communication, employee engagement can be enhanced through the implementation of rewards or incentive programs that address individual needs. If you already have a reward program, review it to make sure that it doesn’t solely focus on money and ignores the important human factor.
One example of how a reward program can address individual needs is to give employees the opportunity to collect points for achieving certain milestones (not unlike collecting Air Miles). The employee is then able to redeem their points for prizes of their choice. That way, while one employee might choose a gift certificate for dinner at an exclusive restaurant, another might choose a family outing to Canada’s Wonderland. Since everyone gets what they want, these types of programs typically result in a win for the employee and a win for the employer, since resources aren’t wasted on programs that don’t actually inspire the team.
Every year, organizations of all sizes should make the effort to conduct an employee engagement survey that identifies gaps and to take steps to bridge them with their employees. Particularly when the economy is tight, ensuring you have the best and brightest talent behind you will give your organization a true competitive advantage.