Employee engagement is a vital part of the success of a business. Employees are the most important, and often most underappreciated, part of a company. There are countless studies linking employee engagement to improved performance in the workplace. But the important thing to realize is that employee engagement is not a quick month-long initiative. It’s an ongoing and ever-changing process. While there’s no one right way to keep your employees engaged, there are definitely some wrong ways to go about employee engagement.
Oftentimes, management makes the mistake of viewing employee engagement efforts as expenses rather than investments. However, it’s not so much about the money invested in employees as it is about the time and effort. People can tell the difference between a half-hearted attempt to create a personal relationship and genuine outreach. Make sure that your employees feel truly valued by avoiding these employee engagement mistakes.
1. Your Recognition Program is Outdated
If an employee goes above and beyond, then yes, that effort deserves recognition. But, “Employee of the Month” is an outdated and ineffective attempt at employee engagement. Recognition shouldn’t be wrapped up in a periodic contest to see which employee is “the best”. The employee that “wins” for that month will feel appreciated and might even work harder to live up to his/her new title for a week or two while the rest of your team feels unnoticed. And you’ll likely never be able to recognize everyone in a timely manner.
Tips for successful recognition:
- Timing is everything – you need to recognize the good while it is still fresh in everyone’s mind.
- The more often the better – when you recognize bite size pieces of good frequently, you’ll build confidence and positive emotions.
- Be specific – saying ‘thanks’ or ‘good work’ is not enough. Give specifics on what you appreciated.
2. You’re Giving Out the Wrong Rewards
A free mug does not an engaged employee make. Sure, it’s nice to give employees a gift occasionally, but do not mistake this for employee engagement. Giving the same branded merchandise to everyone does not send the message that you value each employee individually. Save the package of company gear for the new hires.
Tips for successful rewards program:
- Intrinsic rewards not extrinsic – monetary rewards cause a short spike in engagement while non-monetary rewards create long-term engagement.
- Be intentional – identify a set of goals that you want employees to work toward and reward them frequently as they make progress.
- Include everyone – it’s easy to reward your top performer over and over again. Make sure that you’re paying attention to others on your team too.
3. Your Team Building Events are a Drag
A common, effective way to increase engagement is to organize “fun” team-building activities. These activities can be a great way to get employees to bond and form meaningful relationships. But the whole point of a fun office event is that people want to show up. Yes, most employees will appreciate the chance to get to know their colleagues, but every team has resistors.
Tips for a success team-building event:
- Don’t make it required – extend an invitation to everyone but don’t require them to attend – and don’t make them feel bad if they choose not to.
- Space it out – scheduling too many events or scheduling them too close together can make even your best participators feel stifled.
- Schedule it during work hours – you’ll have better attendance and more commitment if you schedule at least part of the event during work time.
An office can only do so many chili cook-offs before everyone hates chili (and each other) …
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