An engaged workplace is a productive one. Companies of all sizes across Canada are trying to find new ways to increase employee involvement beyond their job description, and many are spending lots of money and time focusing on the wrong areas.
Most companies are too busy with everything else they have to do to turn inward and scour their culture for pain points. The easier and much more effective way to work on employee engagement is to focus on the positives. Tapping into how employees perceive their job and what they are most grateful for in the workplace will provide valuable insight into current satisfaction and engagement levels. It will also make compensation, training, hiring, and every other facet of human resources significantly easier.
Co-Workers are Friends
When co-workers feel a sense of camaraderie, support, and perhaps even friendship, research has shown they experience less stress and burnout. When people feel supported by their co-workers, they get more involved in speaking up and participating at work. They feel satisfied that they make a noticeable difference in their day-to-day experience, and in the long-term, feel more committed to their jobs and workplace. In a workplace with an established hierarchy and clear seniority levels, co-workers who feel like friends don’t feel so alone when raising issues or speaking with upper management, because the lines drawn in the sand that delineate authority and power don’t mean as much, since everyone is in good spirits with each other.
Managers are Leaders
In many cases, employees leave managers, not jobs. An overbearing manager leaves the employee feeling worthless and incapable, while a disengaged one sends the message that they don’t care about their team’s work, good or bad. Either way, the manager is not being a good leader. So what does good managerial leadership look like? It means motivating employees and giving them a vote of confidence in everything they do. It means inspiring employees to do what’s right and providing an example to follow. Above all, it means engaging with teams and making sure everyone at every level feels important.
Pay and Perks Don’t Matter
That headline may be slightly misleading, but it’s true: in a workplace where employees fixate on how much or how little they make (or how much their co-workers make in comparison), productivity drops and resent sets in. Employees who work a job merely to get a cheque couldn’t care less about the actual work they do, while those who perform the same tasks and are compensated fairly think less about their salary and more about their work. The key here is to strike a balance. If you underpay your employees, they’ll be disgruntled (even if they choose not to make it known), and overpaying employees creates a short-lived satisfaction before this higher-than-normal compensation becomes normal again. If you offer your employees slightly more than their market value and include manageable perks without making these one of the primary focuses of working with you, the subject will seldom be on your employees’ minds.
So how do you transition your workplace to one that fosters employee engagement?
Invest in co-workers and social interaction. Co-workers need a chance to mingle, get to know each other, and collaborate. Find out what your employees care about and create social opportunities around it. Reduce turnover by helping managers and supervisors do their job better. Professional development opportunities will empower your managers to expand their skillset and will act as a move of good faith, showing them you care about and put trust in their abilities. Most of all, don’t be a wet blanket. Stay open to creativity and fresh ways of operating. Keep channels of communication open and don’t discourage deviation from the norm. Before you know it, your workplace engagement will significantly improve.
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