Picture this. It’s 8am and you walk into an office full of smiling, happy people, all diligently doing their work. They’re busy, but you can tell from their smiles that they’re enjoying every minute of it. The sound of laughter lingers in the background, and it is a delightful room to walk into.
What has just been described is the perfect world of employee engagement.
But that picture is rarely the case for most companies, especially considering that according to a study conducted by Gallup, only 34% of US employees feel engaged at work.
The fact is, employee engagement is a huge (if not the biggest) asset and long-term benefit to any company. Not only does it lead to increased productivity, it also creates higher employee retention rates, improved customer satisfaction and a happier company culture.
While your workforce may not exactly represent the above image, you can, however, notice the barriers hinging employee engagement and work towards overcoming them. Even if you’re using all the engagement tactics in the rulebook, you may not realise that there are bigger boulders in the way.
Here are 5 of the most common barriers to employee engagement and how to overcome them:
1. Lack of clarity
Whether it’s employee roles or a lack of understanding on specific tasks, when things are not made clear, employees can be left feeling confused and not able to perform tasks to their full potential. What’s worse is that many employees find managers unapproachable when asking for direction. Put an unapproachable manager and unclear communication together and you’ll have a very stressed, confused and demotivated employee who won’t speak up. Yikes!
To overcome it:
Start in the hiring process. When someone comes onboard, make sure the role they are given is clear. Assigning a mentor that’s friendly and helpful will make sure that the newbie understands exactly what is required of them.
Managers should bring new (and existing) employees into the bigger picture, where they can understand their role, the role others play, as well as how their part contributes to the company’s vision.
Setting up communication channels between managers and employees is also crucial in avoiding a lack of clarity. This makes it easy for employees to ask about things they are unsure about in a place that won’t get lost among hundreds of unread emails. Here are 3 communication strategies that boost employee engagement to get you started.
2. No employee engagement strategy
Do you have goals set out to achieve high employee engagement levels? Many companies don’t. Without a solid strategy in place, there is no direction in which to get there. And bringing cake into the office when it’s someone’s birthday certainly doesn’t count as a strategy (although no one will say no to cake!). It needs to go much deeper than that.
To overcome it:
The first step to creating and putting a strategy in place is to figure out what engagement goals you would like to see. A great place to start is with employee engagement surveys. You’ll be surprised at what your employees might say! Put together an employee engagement survey to get the answers you’re looking for and get your action plans in place.
Once you have the insights you need from your employees, the next best place to start is with a recognition program. When employees feel recognised, rewarded and valued, job satisfaction increases and, you guessed it, productivity levels rise. Human resources can play a big role in helping to implement a program or recognition system like bountiXP. Here are 4 ways bountiXP can boost employee engagement.
Ready to launch an employee recognition program that your employees will love? Click here to download a FREE copy of our latest ebook to find out how!
3. Poor Leadership
Engagement and leadership are surprisingly linked. It is leaders’ job to nurture employees into their roles, encourage and motivate teams into great heights. But often the control and power that comes with leadership can turn the role sour. This is often the case when leaders start to micromanage and treat employees disrespectfully.
To overcome it:
Leadership and management teams need to lead from the heart. There is nothing more motivating than a genuine leader you can trust, and that trusts you. Consider implementing values-based leadership. After all, it is known as the best leadership for business success.
4. Lack of alignment
Do your employees understand the reason why your business exists? And if so, is it aligned to their own set of life values? Many companies make the mistake of not sharing their company goals, vision and values with their employees. People want to work for companies that reflect their own individual ethics and values, and if your company’s values and visions aren’t communicated to them, they may make up their own mind about it.
To overcome it:
Create a vision, mission and values that will engage your employees and give them a purpose to work towards so they can understand why the company does what it does. Start from the top, and align senior managers, leaders and even board members with exactly what the company’s vision, mission and values are. And then comes the tricky part, it’s important to encourage them all to live it in the work that they do.
5. Little work-life balance
When your employees work, work, work and work some more, it can be extremely demotivating. Not to mention, working over and above dedicated hours with little reward can lead to burnout and highly stressed employees. Often, managers expect their employees to put their lives on hold and always put their company first. But in reality, they already give the company all of their time and energy, and they still need to focus on other key life areas such as family and friends, health, and life goals.
At the end of the day, the best way to keep your employees engaged is to make sure they are equally enjoying their life outside of work.
To overcome it:
Starts with managing time fairly so that employees aren’t working too much overtime, as well as supporting their lives outside of work. Remember, time spent on the job does not necessarily indicate productivity. In fact, more and more people are choosing to work smarter, not harder, and use their time wisely. Many countries, such as the Netherlands, even work shorter weeks and are seeing great results.
Focus on the lives of your employees and what matters to them most. Recognise their achievements, life events and milestones outside of work and start building a company culture that your employees will love. At the end of the day, it’s all about creating an employee experience.
So there you have it.
The most common barriers are often overlooked, but could be the reason employee engagement is plummeting. Improving engagement can prove to be tricky but if you successfully remove the barriers , the sail will be much smoother.
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