Workers primarily work to pay the bills, right? But research shows that workers who are genuinely engaged in their work are happier, healthier, safer, as well as being more productive and profitable to the companies they work for. Intuitively, there is also a far higher retention rate of employees who report that they find their work engaging. So how should companies go about reducing the ‘clock in, do the minimum and clock out’ mentality, in favour of engaging their workers in a more genuine way?
One important recommendation to assist in engaging workers in their workplaces is to ensure that company goals are transparent. Workers should know what the company is working towards, and should be kept informed on the company’s progress towards these goals. They should understand the scope of their work in terms of what is being achieved on a broader level, rather than just being briefed on their day to day tasks. Open communication between all company levels motivates and engages workers who see the value in their contributions, and can take partial ownership of the positive progress of the company. Joint action towards a shared goal can also assist in creating a unified and cohesive workplace. Even departments who work in vastly different areas of the company can feel a sense of belonging to a larger whole.
Genuine engagement is also closely linked to workers’ relationship to their immediate supervisors. First and foremost, supervisors should try to foster a respectful relationship with workers. It may seem obvious, but people will feel far more connected to a company if they are known on a personal level, rather than feeling like a cog in an immense machine. As well as getting to know individuals in a personal sense, supervisors should make an effort to understand the professional goals of the individuals who work under them. This allows supervisors to try to set up opportunities for growth, personal development and lateral movement where possible. One recommendation for allowing growth and development is to allow frequent opportunities for workers to demonstrate initiative and leadership without the micro-management of a supervisor or owner. This is important, as not allowing workers who are clearly capable to take on more responsibility and independence in their role can leave them feeling stagnant and frustrated.
Welcoming feedback from employees at all levels is another important component of encouraging genuine engagement. Workers are often in a unique position to identify issues in the internal workings of a company. Failing to provide workers with a means to report on these issues, or letting these reports go unnoticed or unaddressed, not only actively discourages worker engagement, but is detrimental to company operations. Some ways of encouraging workers to give feedback include weekly or monthly surveys, skip-level meetings (where leading or senior employees speak directly to workers), or tailgate meetings where worker input is welcomed. Allowing workers to give feedback (and actioning this feedback where possible) lets workers know that their opinions are respected and valued.
By making company goals transparent, encouraging supervisors to get to know those working under them, and encouraging the invaluable feedback which can be provided by workers, leaders can ensure that workers are engaged. And not only are engaged workers more productive, profitable and safe, engaged workers are happier workers!