First the bad news: employee engagement continues to remain low, with Gallup citing that only one-third of Americans saying they’re fully engaged at work.
Even worse: it might be managers’ fault. Going back to Gallup, managers account for as much as 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores.
Low employee engagement doesn’t just mean disinterested employees, but also lower numbers in productivity, quality, and profits.
So the good news? Since managers play a big role in engagement, there’s room for immediate improvement. Start with these three strategies:
Be Available and Approachable
When employees feel they can come to their bosses with concerns or questions, they are more likely to be engaged. In fact, Gallup found that 65% of employees who don’t feel they can approach their manager with any type of question are actively disengaged.
But keep in mind that it might be hard for employees to open up honestly to someone who has the power to fire them. That’s why it’s important to give your employees ways to anonymously offer ideas or talk about work problems, as well as letting them know you’re available to them. Remember to accept both positive and negative responses — otherwise, you’re only paying lip service to the idea of being open.
Offer Regular Feedback
Helping employees navigate your expectations and align their priorities with yours helps them feel more invested in their performance. But you can’t do that just on an annual or quarterly basis. A Globoforce report found that the majority of employees want their feedback weekly or as soon as possible. This is especially true of millennials, who are twice as likely to want weekly feedback over any other generation.
That doesn’t mean a formal performance review every week. Instead, start holding informal one-on-one sessions with employees. Use that time to give them a quick overview on how they’re doing, collaborate on ways they can improve, and set ongoing performance goals. Not only are employees more likely to be invested in their personal growth, but they’re also more likely to be engaged.
Focus On Your Employees’ Strengths
Feedback is essential, but so is recognizing your employee’s unique strengths and allowing them to use these talents. According to that same Gallup study, 67% of employees who strongly agree that their manager focuses on their strengths or positive characteristics are engaged.
As a manager, be curious about your employees and their lives outside the workplace, then find a way to incorporate their non-work-related skills into the daily workload. If someone on your team is artistically inclined, let them collaborate on a creative project with another department, even if that’s outside their job description.
If you’re faced with a disengaged team, you’re losing out on a lot more than just their interest level. By becoming an approachable, responsive, and strength-focused manager, you can reverse the tide of low engagement — and boost your company’s quality and bottom line as well.
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