Three Ways to Help Engage Employees: New and Experienced

So, your HR department created an exhaustive, bulleted list of job responsibilities for a recently vacated position, summed up earning potential and benefits, and uploaded the file on to Monster, where it awaited a pool of hungry and talented job prospects. Top candidates were interviewed, a position contract was negotiated, and the new hire was knighted with a badge and key to the building before a month of formal and informal training.

The whole process groans on for over two months, but the new hire is excited, brimming with the potential to supercharge the different business lines. The future is looking favorable.

But, how do you keep an employee from an ill-fated spiral, ending in a fizzle?

1. Connect their position to the foundation of the company. It starts with a company’s foundation, in the form of a clear and inspirational mission. But, the lifeblood of an employee’s longevity within a company is that company’s commitment to a healthy, budding culture. Top businesses have a keen ability to not only attract standouts but engage them.

Charles Schwab said, “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among men the greatest asset I possess. The way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement.”

2. Affirmation is Key – Give credit where credit is due. A great dental plan to cover little Becky’s braces and sizable Christmas bonuses are nice, but employees grow and flourish in the waters of affirmation. This is evident in the appearance of new companies like Bonusly, You Earned It, and Achievers, which have built online platforms that allow co-workers to share the equivalent of a digital pat-on-the-back along with peer-to-peer bonuses dubbed micro-bonuses. All of the sites’ infrastructures encourage rewards to be given out in alignment with a company’s core values.

The web aside, great companies have long created a consistent ebb and flow of praise in the form of handwritten letters, appreciation programs, and the simple yet powerful act of expressing gratitude in the form of kind words.

And more importantly, a company culture focused on affirmation and praise creates an environment where employees feel safe to fail.

3. Enhance learning experience based on individual team members. US Army General H. Norman Schwartzkopf, once remarked “I have seen competent leaders who stood in front of a platoon and all they saw was a platoon. But great leaders stand in front of a platoon and see it as 44 individuals, each of whom has aspirations, each of whom wants to live, each of whom wants to do good.” Employees value the opportunity to be involved in all kinds of learning experiences, both in a team environment and in an individual environment. Opportunity to participate in decision making often reduces stress and creates trust and a culture where people take ownership of problems and their solutions. Being able to recognize the different strengths of each team member allows them to take on projects that they are passionate and excited about. The fear of failure is at the back of their mind rather than the forefront. Leaders who allow their team members to take risks, make mistakes and learn based on their experiences, cultivate an environment and team that collaborate on organizational, departmental, and group goals while excluding individuals pursuing self-interest and personal goals.

In the book E-Myth Revisited, author Michael E. Gerber borrows from Thomas J. Peters and Robert Waterman Jr.’s influential work, In Search of Excellence: “Tolerance for failure is a very specific part of the excellent company culture—and that lesson comes directly from the top. Champions have to make lots of tries and consequently suffer some failures or the organization won’t learn.” And if organizations won’t learn, they often times grow stagnant and disappear.

In what ways does your company engage its employees? Check out our upcoming second blog in the Engage series discussing how First Rate actively engages its employees!

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