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That One Memorable Gift

December 20, 2021

By: Jennifer Lucas

It’s that big gift. Remember the one, when you were a kid? The one thing that you weren’t expecting, but it made your eyes light up. And you kept playing with it long after the holidays. Maybe for years. It’s the one that pops into your mind when someone asks, “What is the best gift you’ve ever received?” It was special because it lasted and made a difference, and it showed you that the giver really knew you.

That’s what employee engagement is. Going into each day with interest and curiosity, feeling seen and understood by management, feeling important, knowing you can make a difference, having room to grow in your career… all this wrapped in a package called Employee Engagement is an eyes-light-up kind of gift.

But this isn’t just a gift for the recipient – it’s one for the giver, too. According to Natalie Wickham at Quantum Work, leaders who invest their time, effort and resources into employee engagement receive the following benefits in return:

  • Lower absenteeism
  • Higher retention
  • Greater employee loyalty
  • Better customer service
  • Greater productivity
  • Higher sales

And much more. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving!

Act now! Even though there is no one place to click or operators standing by, employee engagement is not too difficult to obtain. Here are 7 important parts of employee engagement.

1. Respect: Having a culture of employee/employer respect is crucial. This is the most basic aspect of engagement. On its own, it’s probably not enough, but without it, nothing else will work. To foster a culture of respect: Treat people fairly/equitably, offer corrective performance advice in private and diplomatically, discourage gossip, follow through on commitments, hire sufficiently to keep workloads manageable, listen to and address concerns, and be prepared to apologize.

2. Appreciation: Let employees know their work is valued. When someone goes above and beyond, acknowledge it. Say thank you out loud and in public if the employee is the outgoing type who likes being in the spotlight. Email a thank you to the ones who would rather not. But go ahead and cc the team because, even if the employee is reserved, it feels good to be acknowledged.

3. Getting to know people: While we’re on that subject, knowing what type of recognition a person prefers is a great way to keep them engaged. Engagement, like most aspects of leadership, is not a one-size-fits-all matter. Learn about each person’s personality. How do they prefer to communicate? When do they seem to do their work best? What seems to stress them out? A leader’s job is to remove obstacles from a performer’s path. You do that by getting to know what makes them tick. If you’re not sure or you want to dig deeper, consider a personality profile, like the Omnia Assessment.

4. Openness: This goes along with respect. As a leader, you may not always be able to tell your staff everything, but be as open as you can about what’s going on in the company, projected problems and possible changes that will impact everyday life for the employee. Secrecy shuts people down, but feeling like management is being open and authentic makes employees feel involved and engaged.

5. Opportunities: Make sure there are opportunities for growth. Few people are comfortable doing the same thing over and over forever. Some are – hold on to them, and check in with them regularly to make sure they still have everything they need. For the others, talk to them about the future – their future with the company. Make sure they know you want them there in the future. Keep in mind that not all opportunities have to be advancement to management. Consider cross-training, introducing new technologies, offering courses in employees’ areas of interest. What they learn can benefit the company as well as them.

6. Flexibility: If these last two years have taught us anything, it has been the need for flexibility. Most companies learned that they could move ahead and even thrive by being flexible. Don’t forget that lesson when it comes to making adjustments that benefit your employees. If someone is more effective at different times, if family concerns make certain schedules impossible for star performers, if a different approach to the job produces the same results, make a change. It’s not always possible, but we’ve learned that a lot more is possible than we ever thought before. If you feel like saying “no” to an ask, explore why. “Because it’s always been done this way” is not a good enough reason to disengage or lose an excellent employee.

7. Innovation: One step beyond flexibility is innovation. Explore with employees the different ways of approaching goals, processes and operations. An engaged employee is not a cog in a lifeless machine. This is a person you selected because of experience, intelligence, personality or an undefinable special something. You’ve trained them, and they are succeeding. Now, let them train you. No matter how much you think you know about a job, someone who does it every day knows more. This is what you want! Listen to them, act on ideas, and reward successes.

I know, there is no “add to cart” button or free express shipping on employee engagement! It’s a little more complicated, but it is a gift that is worth giving. It’s so good, you might want some for yourself!

Jennifer Lucas

Jennifer originally joined The Omnia Group in 2005 as an analyst. After a brief stint away to work in project management and to start a family, her fascination with behavioral assessments pulled her back. She returned in 2011 as a member of the in-house analyst/project team. She writes and edits Custom Profiles, Targets, special projects, and articles. She enjoys being able to provide guidance to build effective, productive teams and help find strong matches for both clients and candidates.

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