3 Ways Leaders Can Increase Employee Engagement

The past year and a half has prompted a lot of reflection. Reflection on our society, our relationships, and especially our work. Remote work proved bumpy but possible. Tips on how to work at home became essential, and many people rose to the occasion—with productivity levels surpassing that of those in 2019. Overall, we as a collective have examined what it means to live and work—and lead

Out of the pandemic teleworking era has emerged phrases like “Zoom etiquette” and even “Zoom headaches.” On my podcast Making Bank, I’ve interviewed countless of entrepreneurs about their journeys during Covid. One phrase that pops up repeatedly—and doesn’t seem like it’s going away—is “employee engagement.” Now more than ever employee engagement feels imperative—and it is. Therefore, leaders must examine how they lead. They must ensure they are helping to boost employee engagement. If they do not, it could cost them their team, or even the company. 

Employee Engagement 

So, what is employee engagement? Employee engagement is less about a workforce with no woes and more about one that is emotionally tied to an organization and its culture. Engaged employees are more committed, creative, and impactful at work. You can see this attitude shift in your profits. Companies with a highly engaged workforce increased profitability by 21%, according to a recent Gallup report. That 21% can be the difference between excelling or floundering. 

On the other hand, disengaged employees feel dissatisfied at work and spread negativity to others. Unfortunately, if the culture allows, that negativity can fester until the entire team is unhappy and disconnected with their work. 

A Healthy Culture 

You’re always going to have the occasional bad apple, which is why many leaders worry when there are multiple—as they should. If several or many of your employees are isolated, it’s time to look at your culture. As leaders dictate culture, you must ask yourself what culture are you facilitating as the leader? 

After all, the culture determines the engagement or disengagement. 

Here’s the thing. Yes, you want to build a culture healthy culture to promote employee engagement. But you also want to build a culture with employee engagement in mind. 

How? 

3 Steps to Build Employee Engagement 

On Season 6 episode 10 of the Making Bank podcast, guest Dave McKeown speaks on what he calls the “self-evolved leader.” The self-evolved leader is one who can arise to the challenges of today and be open minded and flexible enough to rise to the unknown challenges of tomorrow. The self-evolved leader can bolster employee engagement while doing so.

So, what are three things you can do as a leader to help increase employee engagement? 

Set Goals with Your Team 

The first and most important thing to do to increase employee engagement is to engage your employees. Sounds self-explanatory but Dave touches on an important area leaders should do that: goal setting. 

Dave urges leaders to include their team on setting the goals for the company, the team itself and individuals. By doing so, leaders may learn how their employees envision the future of the business, as well as hear new ideas. In getting voices involved in the conversation, the solutions may be more dynamic, holistic, and successful. 

One of the things that Dave stresses is that the world is too complex now to have one mind solve all of its issues. Therefore, the old image of a stoic boss that has all the answers doesn’t work anymore. In fact, employees can’t truly connect with a leader who doesn’t connect with them. 

So, Dave says, include your team on your goals. You get to hear fresh, new ideas, while they feel heard. When individuals feel heard, they start to trust more. That trust between leaders and the team is essential to not only stay engaged but thrive in hard times. 

Another great reason to discuss goals with your team, is that you can then ask them about their individual goals. That way, you can better align the team goals with the individuals. Dave believes this is essential for employee engagement. If you can tie the individual’s goals into the larger goals, then that employee will feel like their personal purpose is integral to the purpose of the group—and it is. Therefore, day in and day out—even during challenges—that individual can see that their goal matters, not just to themselves, but to the larger whole. 

Give Them the Tools

Once the goals have been set and the trust has been built, leaders must make sure their team can execute on those goals. Oftentimes, leaders can spend so much time prepping for change, that they neglect to allow their team to implore that change. This causes frustration on both ends, and the trust that was so carefully built is then destroyed. Therefore, when in that goal setting process, be sure to ask your team what they need. Ask them what you can provide so they can do their jobs. This communication is imperative when building employee engagement. Your employees will feel supported, which makes them much more likely to support you and your mission. 

At the end of the day, it comes down to common sense and curtesy: you can’t expect your team to do their jobs if you don’t give them the tools to do so.

Figure Out Your Flow 

Lastly, Dave encourages all leaders to figure out their workflow—for themselves and the team—as early as possible. Leaders must determine, with the help of their people, what is the most efficient method. While this sounds simple it doesn’t always play out that way; sometimes leaders find it difficult to delegate, which makes everyone’s jobs harder. Perhaps egos or even scheduling gets in the way. Overall, you and your employees will both feel frustrated if your workflow causes more—well, work—than it needs to. If your employees feel like they’re walking in circles, or if the work they do is for nothing, they will become disengaged quickly. 

Whatever the case, be willing as the leader to work out the kinks in the system, especially if you’re the one causing those kinks. 

Published December 18th, 2021