By Barbara Mitchell
Q: I worry that our employees sometimes feel disconnected from our association’s mission and lose interest and motivation. What’s the best way to keep our staff engaged in their work?
A: You’re smart to focus attention on employee engagement. It’s estimated that disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy about $300 billion in lost productivity annually.
To keep your staff engaged in their work, start by being open and transparent about your organization’s mission, goals, and objectives. Let your staffers know where you’re headed and how you plan to get there. Make sure they see how their jobs fit into your future plans.
Engagement tends to start strong in new hires and can taper off, so managers should pay particular attention to keeping in touch with longtime workers.
Provide management training to anyone in a managerial role. Your front-line supervisors are the key to employee engagement, so be sure they know how to motivate, reward, and get the best from their direct reports. Engagement tends to start strong in new hires and can taper off, so managers should pay particular attention to keeping in touch with longtime workers.
Evaluate your hiring practices to ensure new staffers know your organization’s history, mission, and values. You want to start out with new hires being as connected as possible to your organization and build from there.
Focus a lot of attention on career growth opportunities for your employees, even in difficult times. Many development opportunities, like mentoring, don’t cost anything. Also, recognize and reward top performers openly. There are many low- or no-cost recognition strategies. A simple “thank you” costs nothing but has a tremendous impact on the person who hears it.
Be sure your pay and benefits are competitive and focused on what your employees need and want. This doesn’t mean you have to offer the highest pay, but it does mean you have to be fair. If your employees feel shortchanged by your pay structure or your benefits package, they won’t be inclined to work hard to support your mission.
Finally, be an organization your employees are proud to say they work for. Be a good corporate citizen and contribute to your local community. Today’s employees want to work for an organization that is doing good things for others.
Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].