What Does Employee Engagement Have to Do with Profit?
What Does Employee Engagement Have to Do With Profit?
If you’ve ever had to hire employees or replace someone then you know the struggles. Dealing with negotiations, insurance, benefits, compliance, training, and “the search”.
Skip straight to the takeaways
I’ve always thought of myself as a practical, numbers-based decision maker. But in assisting my clients to be more profitable I often run across issues of a more intangible nature. Teams not working effectively, and cash leakages caused by firing and hiring too frequently. Creating more profitable organizations also relies on understanding the needs and preferences of individuals.
But how do you keep tabs on the big picture while diving into the nitty gritty of individual needs? The answer lies in leadership and management.
A few ways that I have found organizations to most effectively do this:
- Hire the right people
- Create clear expectations
- Have frequent conversations
- Fix what doesn’t work early
- Connect on a level beyond work
- Really listen
Are you experiencing any of these challenges?
Wasted time and money by training someone who was a poor fit?
Numerous employee absences?
Feeling like your employees don’t really care about your customers or product and are costing you money?
Misunderstandings and duplication of efforts amongst employees?
If you experience or even suspect one of these then keep reading for solutions that you can begin to implement today.
Hire the right people.
One of the most common challenges with engagement is people who just show up to get the job done and don’t really buy into what your organization or business stands for. Do you know what your business stands for? And what is important enough for you to show up and do that work? Likely, if you don’t know the answer, neither do your employees and neither do your customers. This is a dangerous zone to live in.
Even if your reason is for the business is to make money and for you to retire, why do your customers care? Why do they buy your product? If you are successful you may have lucked into this with the solution that you are providing. The reason people buy from you or give to you.
Consider the culture of your organization. What do you do but also how do you go about it? How do employees work with and treat each other? How are customers treated?
Define and understand this and hire people who fit in.
When hiring, you want to find the skills but also the right attributes for the best fit. If the person doesn’t live the culture of your organization there will be immediate resistance and barriers to further engagement. They can get the job done but may never perform above and beyond as they could if they were a better fit.
Create clear expectations.
What do you expect? What do they expect from you? And how is that reflected in the communication norms defined by the organization or the actions of the organization?
Clear expectations can be supported by roles defined in position descriptions, policy dictated in processes checklists or manuals, and follow-through of defined standards.
Have frequent conversations.
How often are check-ins occurring? What do they look like? More and more evidence is pointing to frequent and engaging conversations to encourage engagement. And in my opinion, this is where the real change in effectiveness of team members can be occur.
What are the goals each employee has set for themselves? How are they impacting the objective of the team or organization? What is working or not working? How do plans or even goals need to be adjusted to maintain or greatly increase progress?
These conversations are not another excuse for a meeting to confirm it’s “all good”. A leader should be engaged enough in the conversation and know enough about the work to ask pointed questions. What about that challenge from last week? Or how do you think you can change that? Opportunities may present themselves to remove a barrier or increase resources to support an important initiative.
How frequent? I suggest weekly but this could be even more often for remote workers or less depending on your unique factors.
Need some ideas for check-in questions?
Check out this great article on the importance of “coaching” questions and some great samples that encourage solutions to be uncovered through that conversation.
Click Here for HR Support article via the Non-Profit Association of Oregon
Fix What Doesn’t Work Early.
It’s impossible to answer these questions or redirect resources if this conversation is happening annually, even quarterly. Maybe your metrics are measured quarterly but if you wait to ask important questions then, you could miss out on two months of progress.
Where is the sweet spot between giving up too early and continuing on a path that wastes time and resources? If this is a continual challenge, consider creating a timeline for the implementation of certain goals/projects and what investment is required to adequately determine whether this is the right path or method. Then, it becomes easier to determine if it was given the best change or if resources and barriers need to be addressed before progress will be seen.
With adequate tracking and testing and measuring, it will be evident weeks before the plug has to be pulled.
Connect on a level beyond work.
Team-building has long been recognized as a way for building connections outside the office that lasts even when work returns to the office. Get some office buddies together on a kayaking trip or scavenger hunt and and it’s easy to see why. Seeing each other outside of the typical working environment reinforces the obvious fact that we are all REAL people. We have fears, vulnerabilities, strengths, and interests that may never appear in the workplace. Simple things like a cooking classes can go a long way to increase morale and even productivity. Check out some other great ideas in this article about “Why Team Building is the Most Important Investment You’ll Make”.
The brain is interesting. It is either generating ideas or receiving them. Multi-tasking is impossible. You can’t actually focus on two things at once. Tap your head and rub your stomach. I think you’ll find that your brain moves back and forth from concentrating on the tap to concentrating on the rub. How many times have you walked into a room and not remembered what you were going there to get? You were probably moving on to the next thought as you made your way there.
As a leader, this translates to asking questions for the sake of asking. How are you doing? What are your priorities this week? We’ve all been in a conversation with someone where we are so excited (or passionate) about what we want to say next that we don’t even hear what the other person is saying. Good leadership hears the little things that aren’t being said and opens that up for a deeper conversation. Good leadership relates to experiences, solutions, and continuing education to provide support and encouragement. Good leadership is not the age-old approach that I’m important and don’t have time to waste with you so make an effort to be present.
Get Started Right Now:
Establish norms: points of culture, communication, manuals and policies that define what your organization values
Increase communication: Set expectations by creating position descriptions. Empower employees to set their own goals. Check-in regularly to support and make sure everyone is on track.
Create memorable experiences outside of the workplace: Use team-building to increase communication, engagement, and foster relationships.
Create growth opportunities for managers and employees: Make lessons on leadership and communication just as important as job training.
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