Keeping employees engaged is a constant worry for leaders. There are many ways to address engagement in the workplace. Benefits, company culture, and professional development are some aspects of the employee experience that drive engagement. But if you look at engagement from a personal—even emotional—level, there’s something deeper at play.
Think about the last time you became disengaged with a project. What was the deriving factor behind your disengagement? More often than not, we become disengaged with our work because we feel it doesn’t matter. We become disengaged with our roles when we lose our sense of purpose.
That deep human need to feel valuable, of use, and appreciated—to feel like we matter—plays a central role in whether or not we give our 100% at work or if we slowly decline and become less and less interested in our contributions.
While creating a supportive company culture, good managers and fair compensation can make a huge difference in employee engagement. It’s important not to leave out this simple yet critical part. You need your employees to feel like they matter to you, your organization, and your customers.
So how do you do that? Try these steps.
Ask them about their career goals
Whether an employee is just starting or has been with your company for years, engaging them in a discussion around their future and interests can make a serious impact. By doing so, you can:
- Align their aspirations with your goals for the future of your business. Maybe their interests lie in learning a new set of skills your organization could use!
- Show them you acknowledge their individuality, path, and personal trajectory outside of your organization.
- Get them thinking about how they can grow within your company—creating a path to a good future for both them and your organization.
- Help them realize the work they’re doing will play a part in their future opportunities.
Recognize, recognize, recognize
And the more often you do it, the better.
Did an employee write a great email? Tell them. Did a team complete a project without any hiccups? Celebrate it. Tell your managers to watch the individuals on their teams and identify and celebrate their particular strengths. When people feel seen, they put more intention in their actions. Appreciation goes both ways, so make sure you’re not stingy with yours.
Make your organizational goals personal
A great way to foster purpose is to help your employees see their role from a broader perspective. Engage them in conversations about the future of the company. Ask for their advice and input on how things could be better, and center all of this around your organizational goals. Help your employees see how their role is essential to your organization’s success.
Consider having interdepartmental check-ins where each department talks about how they rely on one another. When your company meets a goal, celebrate your employees for making it happen.
Be flexible when you can, where you can
Employees have lives outside of your organization. They have families, personal goals, friends, doctors’ appointments, and mental and physical health to manage. So, when an employee approaches you for help, be it flex time, extra time off, or medical leave—supporting them to the best of your ability can make a lasting impact on their loyalty and engagement. They’ll feel valued and taken care of as individuals, and that will translate to how they see themselves as employees.
Some employees expect to be resented for taking time off—and in many cases, it’s true. They fear losing their jobs, their position, and their standing. Show them it’s safe to be human and that you have their back.
It can be challenging to find effective ways to make employees feel seen and valued, but the effort is worth it. It will foster strong, loyal relationships and a sense of value and purpose for everyone. This value will translate into high-quality work, dedicated employees, and a culture and brand that will attract, retain, and drive talent.