Editor’s note: This week, guest blogger Andy Roe points out that employee engagement isn’t brain surgery. Often it’s a matter of executing on the fundamentals. But sometimes the simple stuff gets lost among the pressures of day-to-day business.
Keeping employees engaged is a hot topic of discussion for employers, both in the Human Resources department and among other managers and leaders. And no wonder: Research by the Gallup polling organization has found that as many as 70% of employees are not mentally and emotionally engaged in their jobs.
Employee apathy hits companies in the bottom line, as it affects things like attendance and productivity. But it also creates an unpleasant work environment, because when people don’t care much about their work, they tend to feel unhappy while they’re there. And that makes the people around them miserable, with the result that hardly anybody really enjoys coming to work.
So how do you make your organization a place people want to work?
Let’s skip over some of the obvious incentives: lots of money, great perks like a company gym and/or daycare center, five or six weeks of vacation time, a five-minute commute. These are nice, but they may not be within an employer’s control, or they may be impossible for an employer to afford, especially for the smaller companies that make up the majority of American businesses.
But there are some basic principles that companies of any size can follow to foster an engaging and attractive work environment. Here are five:
- Practice development. A solid paycheck is important to most people, but it’s not necessarily what keeps them engaged on a day-to-day basis. You need to help people grow and create opportunities for them to learn new skills. Regardless of their level, employees want to feel that they have a chance to develop at your company. This doesn’t have to mean rising up the corporate ladder — that may not be realistic. If they’re learning new skills and expanding their role, they’re much more likely to feel they’re getting value from the company.
- Minimize gossip and backstabbing. In a recent survey done by SurePayroll, 70 percent of respondents said that a positive company culture is one of the most important things they look for during a job search. More than half, however, said workplace gossip is a problem. If your company allows a culture of blame and gossip, employees won’t feel comfortable in their roles. Don’t let this behavior persist and catch fire.
- Consider employees’ daily experience. This may seem like a no-brainer, but if employees hit obstacles in their day-to-day work experience, it can hurt morale. Things like office supplies, technology issues and payroll can cause frustration if managed poorly. And about the latter: If employees discover mistakes in their paychecks or don’t receive them on time, it can even engender mistrust in the company.
- Make sure the environment is clean. Our survey found that two in five workers were dissatisfied with the bathroom conditions at work! People spend a lot of time in their workplaces, and the bathroom is one place all of us need to visit. Not only should restrooms be sanitary, but the office should be clean; make sure a cleaning crew comes in regularly.
- Create a private space. Our survey found that 25% of employees are resigned to “hiding in stairwells” to make doctor’s appointments or have other conversations they’d like to keep private. Many work spaces are close quarters, and everyone has certain things they have to take care of during the day that they’d rather not share with the entire office. If you can’t designate a small area as a privacy zone, make sure your employees know they’re welcome to use the conference room when it’s empty.
When it comes to employee engagement, most companies can’t offer the luxuries that, say, Google or Facebook can. Not every organization is going to have state-of-the-art interior design or fabulous amenities. But if you can emphasize these five basic principles — personal growth, respect, reliability, cleanliness and privacy — your engagement levels should be well above average.
Andy Roe is the General Manager of SurePayroll, Inc., a Paychex Company. SurePayroll is the trusted provider of easy online payroll services to small businesses nationwide. SurePayroll compiles data from small businesses nationwide, and exclusively reflects the trends affecting the nation’s “micro businesses” — those with 1-10 employees. You can follow Andy on Twitter @AndrewSRoe.
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