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7 Great Ways to Improve Employee Engagement

By: Lending Tree



Employee well-being is a worthwhile investment, as happy workers are 13% more productive, according to an Oxford University study. And with worker retention top of mind these days, keeping employees engaged and excited about their work may also make them more inclined to stick around.

Here are seven ways small business owners can gain a competitive edge by helping their employees stay engaged.

1. Recognize their successes

Hanging onto employees goes hand in hand with making them feel seen and acknowledged. Taking the time to acknowledge workers for a job well done can go a long way — and it doesn’t have to be complicated. This could include sending a company-wide email once a week spotlighting a stellar employee or posting a wall of fame in a common area of your office. Be sure to get specific and mention why they’re special. Maybe they knocked a big project out of the park or suggested a new initiative that took off. The idea is to communicate that their hard work isn’t going unnoticed.

Launching an employee recognition program that doles out personalized rewards can be motivating as well. For example, if you have a team member who loves cooking, you might reward them with a gift certificate for a local culinary class. A gesture like this shows employees that you see them.

2. Find ways for employees to connect

According to a recent survey from employer review site JobSage, 92% of Americans say friendships at work impact their willingness to stay at a company. Roughly three-quarters of respondents also say it helps them stay more creative and productive.

It makes sense when you think about it — you’d likely be more excited to come to work and stay invested when you have meaningful relationships with the people on your team. As an employer, consider creating built-in opportunities for team building. This might be a weekly happy hour, a book club, taking an improv class or art course together or attending local sporting events. You can also host a company-wide retreat where employees can get to know each other better and learn to trust one another.

3. Appeal to your employees’ values

Keeping your employees engaged begins with understanding what matters to them. Is there a way to connect their work and your company’s mission to their core values? For example, research from consulting firm Gartner found 65% of employees want to work for organizations with a strong social and environmental conscience. Being transparent about how your business lives its values is one way to invite employees into the conversation.

Take inventory of what your employees care about. Distributing a values survey or holding a team meeting on the topic can provide some direction. From there, you can find ways to connect the dots. For example, if employees feel connected to cancer research, you could sign up for an office charity run to raise money for the cause. You might even consider offering paid time off for employees to do volunteer work. Another idea is to create an internal volunteer team that organizes regular events and fundraisers.

4. Listen to their needs and ideas

Whether you’re actively looking for new employees or hoping to engage ones you already have, you’ll probably notice that no two workers are the same. One might thrive in a group environment and prefer to be in the office. Others may do their best work in their home office or at a local coffee shop. Flexibility in terms of how your employees work can make for a happier team. What resources do they need to do their job well? And how can you provide them? Perhaps that means providing flexible work hours or more paid time off if possible.

Just as you listen to your employees’ needs, it’s equally as important to take in their ideas. If they’re rolling their sleeves up and doing the work, they might be uniquely positioned to provide valuable insights. Maybe they’ve come up with a creative solution to a business problem or have ideas about making the workflow more efficient. Be open to hearing their thoughts and letting them know their ideas matter.

5. Provide a path for growth

No one wants to feel like they’re in a dead-end position. Engaging your employees and keeping them motivated has a lot to do with their career trajectory. You don’t have to wait until performance review time rolls around to ask employees about their long-term goals.

If, for example, one of your team members would love to eventually go into upper management, you can keep that in mind and provide resources to help them grow and evolve as an employee. You might send them to conferences, enroll them in professional development courses or connect them with someone who can mentor them on their journey. Employees want to feel like you’re invested in them.

You might even expand your operations and create new roles that allow employees to shine and contribute to your business goals. For instance, an employee who loves events and marketing might excel if you promote them to a new role of community engagement manager.

6. Share big-picture updates

Building trust with your employees is key, which is where transparency comes in. Small business owners and managers alike can keep employees in the loop by sharing regular updates. Information to share might include:

  • Relevant news impacting the company
  • New protocols being implemented and why
  • Short- and long-term goals
  • Current challenges in the industry or company

Keeping your employees well informed can help them make sense of business decisions. It can also help them feel more connected to day-to-day operations and your long-term vision.

7. Trust them

One of the best ways to empower your employees may be to simply trust them. According to a recent FlexJobs study, poor management is one of the top reasons people quit their jobs. Micromanaging certainly fits into this category. Hounding your workers and trying to control things in their job description sends the message that you don’t have faith in them. Instead of feeling trusted and valued, employees could feel diminished and frustrated.

If your management team has a habit of micromanaging, encourage them to step back and allow their workers to do what they’ve been hired to do. That doesn’t mean there’s no accountability — employees should still be expected to meet their short- and long-term goals. It’s more about giving them space to do that.

There isn’t one right or wrong way to engage your employees. Start by understanding who they are, what they need, and what matters to them. Then connect those things to your management style.

Published: November 3, 2022

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Lending Tree

LendingTree is an online loan marketplace for various financial borrowing needs including auto loans, small business loans, personal loans, credit cards, and more. We also offer comparison shopping services for autos and educational programs. Together, these services serve as an ally for consumers who are looking to comparison shop among multiple businesses and professionals who will compete for their business.

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