By Michael Mink
It’s no secret that happy employees are more productive. So most firms want to create a positive work environment. In 2015, Deloitte found that 87% of organizations listed engagement as one of their top priorities. Yet three years later, Gallup found that only 15% of employees actually report feeling engaged in the workplace.
Louis Carter, author of “In Great Company: How To Spark Peak Performance By Creating An Emotionally Connected Workplace,” offers a reason: “It’s because employee engagement programs offer the wrong incentives.”
He says the key is creating emotional connection. Why? Carter’s research shows emotionally connected employees are four times more likely to perform at higher levels.
Tips on fostering that kind of culture:
Accentuate The Positive
When assessing an individual’s performance, make coaching comments about “what employees can do better rather than what they did poorly,” Carter said.
“Giving advice beats negative feedback every time,” he added.
Strive For Clear Direction
Define employee roles, expectations and a framework to work within.
Without structure people get “angry, feel like they’ve wasted their time, and are more likely to check out,” Carter said.
Pay On Merit
According to a recent Gartner report, almost 41% of U.S. workers who recently changed jobs said they left because they weren’t being paid fairly. Gartner is a worldwide research and advisory company.
Retention will always be key for companies. But “if you give people more money and benefits when they underperform, they will most likely cash their paychecks and make your life a living hell,” Carter said.
On the other hand, “provide people with a framework for creating trusting, respectful, collaborative relationships that last, and they will over perform happily,” he said.
Give employees the freedom to try new ideas. David Herranz, president of Adecco USA, a provider of recruitment and workforce solutions, calls this “intrapreneurship.” It’s “empowering employees to think like entrepreneurs and own their role within the company,” Herranz said.
He wants his employees to know their ideas are heard. “Welcoming unique perspectives and encouraging your people to think big can lead to more passionate, happy and innovative employees,” Herranz said.
Aaron Dignan, author of “Brave New Work: Are You Ready To Reinvent Your Organization?” says the most important thing for leaders is to let go.
“As leaders we’ve been trained that our job is to ensure perfect execution,” Dignan said. “It’s not. Our job is to ensure continuously growing capability. And that doesn’t happen (when) you prevent every fire and solve every problem. Let your teams find the edges.”
A research project by Google revealed that one of the top predictors of team success was equal talk time among members during meetings, Dignan says.
“Introduce a retrospective process into every team and project,” he advised. “At the end of the month, or the end of the project, gather the team and ask: ‘What worked? What didn’t? … What should we change?’ Then make the time to do something about your insights.”
Define True North
Make your brand’s purpose crystal clear, says John Dillon, chief brand officer of Denny’s restaurants. Employees need to know the mission to embrace it.
“At Denny’s, we exist because we love to feed people — bodies, minds and souls — and all of our team members come to work every day with that mission in mind,” he said.
Brian Kropp, vice president for human resources at Gartner, says organizations must have a compelling employment value proposition (EVP). A company’s EVP should focus on “what employees want most when it comes to the rewards, opportunity, work environment …”
Kropp says companies that implement a well-managed EVP recruit better candidates without overpaying for talent. They can also decrease employee turnover.
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