How to Inspire & Engage Employees in 6 Easy Ways

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Do you want your employees to work harder? Have a better attitude? Be more productive? Find efficiencies or areas to improve? Show more enthusiasm? Be committed?

It seems that every manager wants these behaviors from their employees, but often believe they need to "fix" or "change" their employees, design elaborate programs, or invest a lot of money in engagement to achieve any results.

The truth is that even though these strategies can help engage employees, using only these tactics will sorely miss the mark. Your front-line managers, on the other hand, are the people that have the largest effect on day-to-day engagement and these outcomes, and the ways in which they do are often cost-free.

Here are 6 easy and cost-free ways that you as a manager can inspire and engage employees to receive the outcomes you want.

First, make sure employees are doing what they were meant to do.

No amount of effort on your part will increase engagement if employees' core skills, abilities, interests, and passions aren't being used in their current role. Employees will feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled in jobs that don't line up to who they are. Plus, you just can't inspire an employee to do what they frankly aren't "meant to do" by virtue of their innate talents and capabilities.

Rather, align employees' skills and capabilities with where they fit best in your organization to maximize their talents. More importantly, strive to hire the right fit so this problem is a non-issue. As a manager, understand the type of person that fits well in a given job - including the skills, personality, and interests that typically go along with the position.

Second, give employees a sense of meaningfulness and purpose in their work

...so they know how their work impacts another individual or group of individuals. Understanding how and whom their work positively affects is key to engaging employees. This is why you should discuss with employees the relevance of their responsibilities on a regular basis.

Additionally, talk about your broader organizational mission, vision, and purpose, especially if its inspiring. All of these types of discussions help enrich employees' work lives and make them believe that they are working for more than a paycheck.

Third, employees need to be measured and given feedback on their progress.

They must have something to reach for - perhaps a goal, standard, or specific measurement that is fair, under their control, and purposeful. These should be discussed with you, agreed upon, and worked towards with your coaching and guidance.

Employees' need for this sense of progress is why strong performance management and feedback is so important. Without good performance management systems, employees can't gauge their progress. Take these processes seriously and use them to the fullest.

Fourth, employees need to feel valued and appreciated for their contributions and work.

Managers can help employees feel valued and appreciated by simply praising, thanking, recognizing, and showing appreciation for their contributions and hard work. It's that simple and easy.

You must also make them feel valued as an individual. For example, if you don't make an effort to learn about your employees as people, make time to interact with them, and communicate with them on a regular basis, you may be inadvertently communicating to your employee that they are not valued.

Fifth, employees should feel that they are growing in their role

...through challenging projects and assignments, increased autonomy or ownership, and learning and development opportunities either on the job or externally.

Development is central to engagement. Human beings have a natural want and need to progress in their lives and careers. If they aren't being given that opportunity, whether that is informally or formally, they will feel stunted and frustrated once they reach a career plateau.

Sixth, employees must believe that they belong to their work group and in their organization.

This sense of belongingness and cohesion is critical because when employees feel involved and important to the success of their team and when they feel wanted and needed by their coworkers and manager, they are more likely to be engaged.

Managers tend to run into trouble when employees feel invisible, overlooked, or ignored - which happens all too often. To avoid these feelings, you need to relate to your employees, involve them, build a cohesive team, maintain positive coworker relations, and spend time with each employee.

So what does all of this mean for the average manager? It translates to the need to develop strong skills in communication, performance management, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, team-building, among others. It also means making a little more time for your people - taking the time to make small efforts to communicate more, be more inclusive, mentor and develop your team, and show that you value them and their work.

Most importantly though, it underscores how important you are to your employees and the engagement equation. You, as a manager, are the single greatest determinant of whether your employees engage and how they perform every day.

Additional Resources

Supervisory Training Program

In the series, participants will learn how to apply basic managerial and interpersonal skills, including dealing with everyday challenges of being a supervisor, communicating effectively with others, resolving workplace conflict, managing performance and coaching. A supervisory certificate is awarded after completion of the program. 

 

Rewards & Recognition - Motivate, Engage, & Retain Your Employees

Employee appreciation programs that reward and recognize employees have a vast impact on performance and retention. Did you know that a pat on the back can be worth more than cash in the wallet? It’s true; money is not the top motivator when an employee feels important and valued by an employer. Join us for this program to learn more about the basics of employee appreciation and why it is so important, the connection between employee appreciation and employee retention.

 

Management & Leadership Training

ERC offers training on various supervisory, management, and leadership training topics as well as training on workplace/soft skills to help managers be more effective including communication, motivating employees, team-building, empowerment, performance management, and many more - all of which can be customized to the needs of your organization.