workplace

The best employee engagement strategies for your business

January 24, 2020
8 minute read

Employee engagement strategies are crucial for organizations looking to get the most from their people. When employees buy into the company’s mission and vision, value the people they work with, and enjoy the role they’re in, productivity soars. Discretionary effort also increases—meaning employees tend to go that extra mile for your business.

Yet even the most compassionate, committed leaders struggle to keep a finger on their organization’s pulse. According to Jeanie Duck, an expert in change management, managers and senior leaders cannot accurately measure employee engagement through observation alone.

As such, it can be challenging to implement effective employee engagement strategies. After all, how can you change what you can’t identify?

In this blog, you’ll learn how to identify disengaged employees and implement strategies to improve engagement.

What causes employee disengagement?

To come up with strong employee engagement strategies, it’s important to know what actually causes disengagement.

There are four main environmental pressures in the workplace, each of which threatens to deter engagement if left unchecked. These pressures are:

  • Job fit: Misalignment between an employee’s behavioral tendencies and their job responsibilities
  • Manager fit: Misalignment between an employee and their manager
  • Team fit: When employees feel they aren’t a valued contributor to the team
  • Culture fit: When employees feel at odds with what the company culture expects of them

Let’s explore each driver of disengagement in greater detail.

Job fit

Every job has its own requirements—a set of daily tasks and responsibilities specific to the role at hand. When an employee feels in tune with what’s expected of them, it signifies the job is well-suited for their behavioral makeup.

Let’s say the job is an outbound sales role. Day-to-day responsibilities likely consist of striking up conversations with strangers, selling them on something, and dealing with a fair deal of rejection. The ideal person for such a role might therefore be someone who’s outgoing, persuasive, and comfortable with risk.

When an employee isn’t naturally suited for a role, they have to stretch themselves behaviorally. While it can be done, it’s like attempting to fit a round peg into a square hole—trying after a time.

Manager fit

Everyone has had an experience with a “bad” manager. Often, though, a bad experience is the result of conflicting behavioral drives and needs.

Like any employee in an organization, a manager has their own behavioral tendencies. Some managers crave variety and constant change; others prefer stability. Some require facts and data to make decisions, while others prefer acting at a more macro level.

Now imagine a manager leading a direct report who’s their behavioral polar opposite. The supervisor has a high attention to detail and is inclined to micromanage. By contrast, the employee enjoys working independently and gets anxious or defensive whenever their work is held under a microscope.

When faced with contrasting behavioral drives like the above, communication is hindered, emotions flare, and productivity suffers.

Poor team fit

Team fit

Similar to a bad manager-employee relationship, poor team dynamics can also sink a productive ship.

A team is only as strong as the cohesion of its individual members. If you want to build an agile team focused on innovation, you’ll likely want to gather big-thinkers who enjoy working at a fast pace. Conversely, if you want to focus on process and precision, then your team should mainly consist of detail-oriented, methodical employees.

On teams like these, an opposing voice isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In many cases, having diversity of behavior provides a necessary balance to the team. However, there are certainly cases where individuals may feel out of place or have trouble adjusting to a new environment.

This can cause feelings that the employee doesn’t belong on the team or isn’t valued by other team members. It’s easy to see why this could lead to disengagement and decreased productivity.

Culture fit

Organizational culture consists of the specific values and behaviors rewarded on a daily basis. In other words, it’s how organizations encourage employees to act a certain way.

For example, a company that focuses on innovation may have an organizational culture that rewards flexibility and exploring unique solutions. As a way to encourage this behavior, the organization may hold regular product development meetings and brainstorming sessions. It may also invest in whiteboards for its offices and creative software tools for its employees.

When culture is so ingrained at a company, it can be difficult for someone who doesn’t fit that way of life. This can be due to a fundamental difference in the person’s behavioral makeup and the type of behavior encouraged by the company. It can also be due to a difference in personal and company values—or just a toxic or dangerous atmosphere altogether.

If the culture’s a bad fit, then disengagement and poor productivity are sure to follow.

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4 effective employee engagement strategies

Now that you understand the four drivers of disengagement, how can you act to circumvent them? Here are four potential employee engagement strategies that can help.

Chart a personalized development path for your employees.

According to the 2019 Employee Engagement Report, lack of career-growth opportunities is one of the leading drivers of employee turnover. Poor career pathing isn’t just causing disengagement; it’s causing people to outright quit.

If an employee isn’t loving their role, or is underperforming in it, it’s easy to consider an improvement plan. Instead, consider a different approach. Take time to explore where your employee sees themself in your organization. What department would that be? What would that job entail?

Explore which jobs would play to your employees’ natural strengths. Then set a development plan in motion. Not only can this improve employee engagement in a current position—it can turn a low performer into a star player in the long term.

Improve manager-employee relationships with awareness.

Just as employees have unique behavioral drives and needs, they also have preferred work and communication styles. Some enjoy face-to-face interactions and speaking off the cuff. Others prefer to take time to reflect and communicate any ideas via email or Slack.

From a manager’s perspective, understanding how employees prefer to work and communicate can be the difference between a poor manager-employee relationship and a great one.

The Predictive Index Relationship Guide is a powerful tool that gets to the heart of this dynamic. Using the results of the PI Behavioral Assessment, the Relationship Guide teaches managers and direct reports how to better interact with one another.

PI Relationship Guide screenshot

 

The Relationship Guide is a useful way to jump-start conversations and strengthen communication. It’s also a tool managers can use to tailor their leadership to fit their employees’ behavioral needs.

By better understanding their own behavioral drives, managers can bridge the gap between them and their employees.

Plan a team-building outing.

Team outings are a great way to build trust among team members and assess current team dynamics.

These outings can range in activity from ski trips to team lunches. They can be held at the office or off-site. The important part is taking time away from work to do something fun and out of the ordinary.

By taking the time to step away from work, you accomplish two things. One, you show your employees that you’re invested in their development and that of the team. Two, you explore what your team does well—and what can be improved.

If you know a specific team member is having trouble fitting in, take this outing as an opportunity to bridge that relationship gap. At best, you may return from your excursion with a unified team. At worst, you’ve identified an opportunity to reconfigure your team and optimize your talent.

Diverse and inclusive workplace

Build a culture of diversity and inclusion.

One way to avoid alienating employees at your organization is to ensure you have a culture that rewards diversity of opinion and background.

As the workforce becomes increasingly diverse, it’s important to have an employee base that’s just as varied. There’s also a clear business reason to do so: Studies show diverse and inclusive teams are more productive than homogeneous ones.

But inclusion means more than just hiring and celebrating underrepresented groups. It means designing your organization in a way that makes everyone feel like a valued contributor.

It means having video conferencing tools—like Zoom and Meeting Owl—to accommodate remote employees. It means encouraging employees to include their pronouns on Slack in support of LGBTQIA+ employees. It means ensuring there’s a clear path for minorities to become managers and senior leaders.

At the end of the day, creating a diverse and inclusive culture isn’t just human resources’ responsibility. It’s an effort that’ll involve everyone at your organization.

Master these employee engagement strategies and boost productivity.

Measuring employee engagement may be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Employ these employee engagement strategies, and help create a more engaged workforce.

Want to discover how engaged your employees are? Find out using a tool like the PI Employee Experience Survey™.

This easy-to-administer survey measures how engaged your employees are and identifies what’s driving engagement—and disengagement—at your organization. Rather than applying broad engagement strategies, you can focus on the few that will have the most positive impact on your workforce.

The result will be more highly engaged employees and increased productivity and profitability.

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