Your business may have a number of valuable assets, but there’s nothing more precious than your team. A highly motivated and engaged team should be prized above all else. And it’s not something you’ll achieve by accident; instead, you’ll need the right employee engagement strategies to ensure your team members are truly aligned with the company’s vision.
I’ve blogged before about the importance of strategic planning, and I’d argue that employee engagement strategies fall under that heading. As you begin the strategic planning process, outlining the trajectory you hope your business will follow, always be thinking about how you can proactively engage your employees.
As for specific employee engagement strategies, I’d offer two words of caution. The first is that not all approaches are created equal, and it’s important to vet each strategy you consider, ensuring it really has mettle. And two, remember that employee engagement may look different from one company to the next; there are no cookie-cutter solutions, and what works for the company next door may fall flat for you.
With that said, there are some basic principles that I think are essential to all effective employee engagement strategies. I’d like to share six of those principles with you today.
Developing Your Employee Engagement Strategies
1: Start from the Bottom
Imagine you were building a new office building. Would you start with the roof, then work your way down? Obviously not; you always start with the foundation and build up from there.
Teams work in much the same way. If you think you can build an effective team by starting at the top, you’re in for a rude awakening. You always have to start at the foundation… not the C-suite, but the very employees who you’re trying to engage.
Remember, your people are your most valuable assets… so make sure you include them in decision-making and vision-setting. Use surveys and questionnaires to get a better sense of what your employees are thinking. Have an open-door policy for employees who want to come with their suggestions. And even if you don’t implement these suggestions, always make employees feel heard and respected.
2: Show You Care
Along the same lines, it’s always important to show your employees that you recognize and take seriously the concerns they bring before you.
If an employee brings up a very real problem, don’t just sit on it. Take some action to address the problem, and make sure you show the employees what you’re doing.
If you implement positive change as a result of employee feedback, make sure you give the employee proper credit, maybe even a public pat on the back.
3: Foster Collaboration
Another hallmark of effective employee engagement strategies? Collaboration.
Make sure different employees and different teams have the opportunity to work together often. Assign tasks not to individuals, but to groups. And facilitate peer-to-peer learning opportunities, allowing one department to “show off” a little for others. When done right, this can be a very healthy way of shoring up mutual respect between your employees.
And, when employees respect and trust the people they work with, that tends to have a direct and positive impact on engagement.
4: Give Employees a Voice
I mentioned above the importance of employee surveys, and I really do think they can be valuable.
With that said, I also think it’s problematic if you only allow your employees the chance to speak up and have their voice heard once a year, or even once every six months.
There are plenty of other ways you can allow for consistent streams of feedback throughout the year, including employee town halls and forums. Anonymous online discussion boards can give employees a safe space to share frustrations. Team retreats can also be good times to ask for thoughts, concerns, or visions for the future.
5: Provide Opportunities for Development
As you do some strategic planning for your employee engagement initiatives, remember that it’s not just about feedback. Another important concept is professional development.
Study after study confirms that this is the most significant way to build engagement: Give your employees chances to learn and to hone their skills; to become more valuable and capable employees. Show that you want to make a real investment in them over the long haul.
To do this, you’ll also need to remember that different people learn in different ways, and there’s room for different kinds of professional development opportunities. Guest speakers/coaches, online training platforms, and seminar attendance can all be methods to consider.
6: Articulate Your Purpose
The final comment I’ll make about employee engagement is this: Engagement requires a sense of mission. It requires a purpose. You have to engage your employees in relation to some broader vision.
As such, one of the simplest and most consequential things you can do in building out employee engagement strategies is clarifying what your business goals are; why they matter; and how employees contribute to those goals, day in and day out.
Being able to do that puts you way ahead of the game on employee engagement.
Ready for More Strategic Planning?
Do you have more questions about the role of employee engagement within the strategic planning process? Or, do you wonder what is the strategic planning process, anyway? I’d love to talk to you about any of these issues!
You can contact me at www.rickgoodman.com or call 888-267-6098. And don’t forget to buy my book, The Solutions Oriented Leader, for step-by-step advice on transforming your life, your business, and your team.