Human Resources News & Insights

Ain’t that complicated: 7 simple tactics to build employee engagement

A bit of advice for your managers who are searching for ways to boost employee engagement: Keep it simple.

That’s the approach espoused by author Todd Patkin, who breaks down the concept of engagement into a one bedrock image: people who find happiness at work. We intuitively know that happiness is connected to the simple things in life. So why not apply that principle to the workplace?

Recently, Patkin shared several uncomplicated strategies that your managers can use to begin transforming your workplace:

Catch people doing things right

Everyone knows how embarrassing and stressful it is when the boss catches you doing something wrong. And for most employees, those negative feelings can linger (and impact performance) for hours, days or longer. Not only can praise improve your employees’ perception of their supervisors, it’s also an incredible morale and motivation booster.

“People love to hear positive feedback about themselves, and in most cases, they’ll be willing to work a lot harder to keep the compliments coming,” noted Patkin.

“Why? Because praise, especially when it comes from an authority figure, is incredibly fulfilling. Phrases like, ‘Bob, I’ve noticed that you always double-check your reports for errors, and I want to thank you for your commitment to quality,’ or, ‘Sue, you always take such care to keep the file room neat. Thank you so much!’ take about five seconds to say, but they can pay long-lasting dividends for the organization.”

Praise them publicly (and then praise them some more)

Many employees may brush off praise or downplay their achievements. But admit it or not, everybody loves to be recognized and complimented in front of their peers. So managers shouldn’t stop with a “mere” compliment when they catch an employee doing something right — they should tell the rest of the team.

Correct or not, many employees feel that their leaders take them for granted and point out only their mistakes in front of the group. So it only makes sense for supervisors to make it their daily mission to prove that perception wrong.

Handle mistakes with care

No question — mistakes are going to happen. You can’t control everything. What managers can control is how they handle these screwups — and by extension, what kind of impact they have on the overall operation. Lambasting an employee who has dropped the ball may make a manager feel better in the short term, but it’ll negatively impact that employee’s self-confidence, poison the worker/supervisor relationship, and create overall negative feelings about the company.

“It’s important to remember that mistakes are an essential part of growth,” Patkin said. “The innovation and creativity it takes to grow a business will be accompanied by setbacks and slip-ups. You don’t want to create an environment where people don’t take potentially productive risks because they’re afraid you’ll get mad if they screw up.”

Widen the decision-making process

Too many managers don’t put much emphasis on the thoughts and opinions of their employees. After all, line workers are paid a fair wage to come to work each day and perform specific tasks. But good leaders get their people involved in decisions as they come up — giving their reports a genuine sense of having some control over how things get done.

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