6 Ways to keep Employees Engaged

According to a Gallup study the bulk of employees worldwide are not engaged and if this is true then it provides us a great opportunity to understand what factors enable greater employee engagement. From time immemorial we have had motivational theories going the rounds from BF Skinner, Fredrick Herzberg, Sigmund Freud, and Abraham Maslow. I am not going to labor on all these but they do provide a good idea of how motivation has progressed. Of course the need for managers to know what motivates their employees is a key determinant for employee engagement. This is not meant to be a complete list because human emotions are too widespread to have a cookie cutter approach to motivation. However some common needs of all can be used as the starting point towards greater engagement which eventually leads to better performance.
Purpose beyond the paycheck – Lot of studies have been done and concluded that pay is not the most important motivator. Challenging work and responsibility comes higher on the list. Again this is considering the basic pay needs are met. One of the elements is for the person to feel they are contributing something more than just for a pay check. Align a person’s tasks to overall purpose; make them feel their work is important. We have all heard of the story where one builder says I am laying a brick while another says I am building a cathedral. Here we have two people and one person understands the larger purpose and hence brings their best to the work being done. 
Lubricating trust – Ensure that members of your team have no need to fear talking openly about their concerns/problems with you. This is very important to build employee engagement. When the person knows that their opinions will always be valued even if the boss may disagree it promotes trust and trust is the lubricant of successful teams. Once trust is established the person can openly disagree with the boss but if a decision is made they still support to the decision. 
Praise and Recognition  The number one human need is to feel important for the work they do. In my opinion praise never goes out of fashion. Yes there a lot of theories that intrinsic motivation is more important than extrinsic but nothing makes you feel better than getting recognized by your boss. So irrespective of whether it is small or large victories as managers we need to keep praising each member of the team and recognizing their respective strengths. Rewards can be tangible like cash rewards and intangible like a special private lunch or offering personal development opportunities. Praise can be offered publicly to make it clear to the team what actions are needed to get the recognition. 
Feedback – To improve performance appraisals there should be consistent feedback during the year and at the end of the year the team member would already have an idea on where he or she needs to improve on and why they got a specific rating. So having meetings with each individual on a periodic basis to provide encouragement, identify areas of improvement and aligning the person to their agreed goals is critical in ensuring there are no surprises at the end. This is easier said than done but striving for this improves the odds and avoids last minute disappointments. 
Ownership – As a manager one way to get the best out of your people is to create a sense of ownership. This means the team members are accountable for the final outcome. Once they are given full authority they feel an air of importance and it gives them a sense of responsibility to deliver world class results. Ownership is one of the keys to empowered employee engagement. As a manager when you delegate the task completely and enable ownership it shows the team that you totally trust the employee’s capability in delivering high quality results. This in turn provides motivation for the individual to bring out their best. 
Get to know the person –Finally as a manager it is not only important to know what motivates the person at work, it is important to know the whole person, taking an active interest in their personal accomplishments, what makes them tick as this increases their happiness levels and gives them a feeling of importance. Once employees are happy the performance elevates. The point of doing all this is that happy employees are generally self-motivated and once the environment of excellent employee engagement is established there will be a dramatic improvement in the output produced. Finally results are everything and driving employee engagement is one of the primary requirements of leaders/managers which will eventually lead to desired results.


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