Many leaders believe there’s no way to engage every employee.
After all, every department, team and individual is different with nuances of their own. How could you possibly satisfy them all?
With hardcore, deep diving research that seems to have uncovered the absolute three best ways to improve employee engagement.
Harvard Business School researchers created the Employee Engagement Checklist. And to say they were engaged in that work would be an understatement.
They tirelessly reviewed academic literature, compiled a list of the 20 most important drivers of engagement and pulled together data on what engages employees in the COVID-19 era. Then, they compared that to what managers predicted would boost employees’ engagement. Finally, they formulated a series of recommendations on how to engage everyone.
And here’s what works:
Help make the connection
Top of the list: Help employees connect what they do to what they care about. More simply put, make their work matter in their lives.
- Rethink your mission. Employees feel better working for companies that want to do more than be the best in the industry. They prefer companies that are at least somewhat focused on a greater good that aligns with their values.
- Show employees how their work aligns with the mission. It’s not enough to simply create a feel-good mission. Work with employees to revamp job descriptions so they reflect the purpose, not just the duties. For instance, the hospital janitorial staff role could be re-framed as helping sick people rather than just cleaning.
- Support Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Let employees create and thrive together around similar passions, interests and causes.
Cut stress, add enjoyment
Forget all work and no play makes Jane a dull girl. Work that’s not enjoyable makes Jane stressed and disengaged.
To add enjoyment:
- Help employees find intrinsic (internal) motivation. The researchers suggested job rotations so employees have opportunities to try different work and find what really makes them happy.
- Give more autonomy. Regardless of the position, train employees so well they can make decisions and handle challenges without oversight. Let them choose as much as possible how and when they do their work.
- Boost confidence. Give employees opportunities to mentor and be mentored. What they can learn from and teach each other boosts morale and confidence organically.
Reward with what employees want
In addition to internal motivation, employees still want rewards that are more external – specifically, more time off and financial incentives.
To reward and engage every employee better:
- Increase time-off incentives. Make it easier to earn days or hours off. Increase vacation days. Even better, implement company-wide days off so no one is compelled to check in, respond or take on responsibilities.
- Help them invest in time-saving purchases. Partner with dry cleaning, grocery delivery, childcare, tax preparation, meal kit, housekeeping, etc., services so employees can make more time for leisure.
- Discourage after-hour messaging. Employees need to disconnect every day to stay engaged when they’re working.