Ask any team leader, manager or business owner if they think employee engagement matters anymore. I’m quite sure they’ll all say that it does. We’ve reached a point where we don’t need a hard solid proof to believe that higher levels of engagement increase well-being, performance, and employee retention. We witness everyday how an engaged team delivers better results in terms of revenues and profits.
But what exactly is employee engagement? In this article, we’ll try to answer questions like this one and find out some tested methods that can help your team become more engaged and, of course, deliver better results.
An attempt to define “employee engagement”
For decades, scientists have been intrigued by this topic and have tried to come up with ways to define it. So far, no definition has been in stone.
What’s certain is that an engaged team is not defined by one act or some particular behavior. It is a sum of factors, you can only analyze it through a holistic approach. In The Two Sides of Employee Engagement, specialist Sean Graber proposes a modern way of looking at employee engagement.
Instead of viewing engagement in terms of low, medium, and high, organizations will be able to understand how employees perceive them, how that perception relates to their behavior, and in aggregate, how those factors drive bottom-line performance – Sean Graber
So to answer the question about employee engagement, I chose a definition that seems to fall into Sean Graber’s holistic approach.
Employee engagement refers to the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the company, and put significant effort into their work. [Source: custominsight.com]
5 ways to improve employee engagement in your organization
Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to employee engagement and no secret recipe that will definitely lead you to success. You have to build on your existing foundation and add one layer of improvement at a time.
We’ve recently wrote a lot about strategies we use at Hubgets to keep an engaged team and make it more productive, so I thought I’d organize everything in one list. If any of the suggestions below seems like something you could use in your organization, just follow the link and read more on that topic.
- Build a culture of learning. Create opportunities for your team members to learn, grow, and expand their knowledge and skills. One training session or tickets to a conference will not make a significant difference. Instead, try to create a culture of continuous learning.
- Be transparent and communicate well at all levels. Let your team know what’s going on in different departments, and give them a chance to have a saying and propose new ideas. We do that here using Hubgets’ team and group Topics where we share knowledge, ideas, and files. Take a look at how you can use Hubgets to improve communication in your organization.
Grow your startup faster with better team communication!
- Create a psychologically safe environment. When team members are motivated at work and want to share an idea for improving performance, they frequently do not speak up because they fear they will be harshly judged. If you can break that boundary through better communication, expect amazing things to happen.
- Drop the useless, unproductive meetings. More and more studies show the same thing: businesses waste too much time and money on unproductive meetings. Teach your team to spot an inefficient meeting from afar.
- Reduce stress at work. You’re probably thinking – impossible! I know that, because that’s exactly how I used to feel, but as it turns out, the stress level can be decreased substantially through minimum improvements. Take interruptions, for example. They are a big source of stress, especially when they occur often. If that’s the case in your company, check out these easy techniques that can help your team members deal better with potential interrupting factors.
Too much of anything doesn’t get you too far
So many startups out there fail to produce the results that investors expect. Most of them rely on highly engaged teams. On the other hand, many organizations achieve outstanding results thanks to their least satisfied employees. How is that even possible? And most importantly, how can you create a highly engaged team that’s also achieving great results?
In his article, The Dark Side of High Employee Engagement, psychologists Lewis Garrad and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic claim that engagement alone cannot substitute things like a clear goal, a safe team culture, and a sense of purpose. These, along with many others, are important factors that affect a team’s success or failure.
They also state that too much engagement can become a barrier to success, in the sense that people tend to focus too much on getting along, and not enough on getting ahead. Just like too much creativity can become a sort of odd eccentricity, too much engagement can turn a company into an underperforming frat house.
Create a balanced environment
There are ways in which extreme engagement can actually damage a company’s long-term well-being. Psychologists Lewis Garrad and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic highlight the following 4 situations as being the most predominant in dysfunctional organizations:
- Employees who are too content with the status quo tend to reject change. The authors give a powerful examples: Nokia, Kodak, and Yahoo!. Three companies that were too satisfied with their positions in the market that they refused to make any significant progress. You know how their stories unfolded.
- Too much engagement can lead to burnout. There are many cases in which employees neglect their life outside work for the sake of higher achievements. Although this may seem great on short term, it’s devastating for their health and well-being in the long run. And companies suffer from this too.
- A demand for higher engagement gives an unfair advantage to happy people. Some people are naturally more optimistic and jolly, but that doesn’t mean that they are in any way better than others. Great programmers are known to have more an introvert personality type. Again, you need balance.
- Too much engagement can suppress critical thinking. Optimism is great, but it’s definitely not the only ingredient in the recipe of success. Just imagine a bunch of people cheering for every single idea that’s thrown out there. If that is the case, the result is damned to be a failure. You need to let critical thinking and negative feedback be a part of your organization’s culture. It’s OK, this will help you grow.
Despite the criticism, if you can create a healthy, engaged environment, then the only way is up for you, your team and your organization. So why not give one of the 5 ideas of engagement a try? Which one do you think it suits your organization better? Let me know in a comment below.