In 1998, I moved from my native New York to Washington, D.C., searching for a fresh start. I needed to get away after some of the toughest months of my life: my parents were divorcing after 25 years of marriage, I had just broken up with my boyfriend, and my grandfather had just died of Alzheimer's disease. I figured things could only get better. My best friend from college lived in DC, so I quit my job, loaded my Saturn SL with all my belongings, and moved 300 miles away to a new city with no job.
I was pretty new in the corporate world, so I was willing to start near the bottom and work my way up. I took a job at a small technology firm as an office manager. On my first day, the HR director told me they were going to sit me at the front desk temporarily until they hired a receptionist. She also told me that the CEO didn't like the title "office manager," so they would be changing my title to "administrative assistant." Needless to say, the three months I spent with the company were not my happiest. I was disengaged, didn't trust management, and didn't feel appreciated.
Have you ever had an experience working in a job you didn't love? It's tough to stay engaged if you work for a micromanaging boss, if the work environment is stifling, or there's no sense of appreciation from management.
Unfortunately, my experience of feeling disengaged on the job is more the norm than the exception for many people.
Studies show the top reasons employees quit include:
- not feeling appreciated;
- no advancement opportunities or development;
- lack of communication;
- lack of clarity around expectations; and
- a bad boss.
Most leaders think the reason employees leave is because of money. While being paid fairly is important, for most employees, other factors like a great work environment, a good boss, and work-life balance contribute to better engagement at work.
So, how do you ensure you keep your top employees? Below are three simple tips for increasing engagement on your team.
Upgrade your leadership skills. Being a leader is more challenging today than ever before. Employees have more choices and opportunities. The expectations are higher. Exceptional leaders always look to improve their leadership skills by reading books, listening to leadership podcasts, and attending conferences and training to enhance their skills. One of my favorite leadership resources is Success magazine. Each issue is packed with leadership tips and even has a CD with interviews from leadership experts.
Conduct stay interviews. Most organizations conduct exit interviews to gather feedback when employees quit. A stay interview is when you have a conversation before the employee decides to leave. The purpose is to understand what will keep your best employees engaged.
Hold regular staff meetings. According to research firm Gallup, employees are three times more likely to be engaged when their manager holds regular staff meetings. Use your staff meetings to set priorities, answer questions, and coach your employees through challenges. Most employees feel they are given little guidance for understanding what is expected of them. Individual coaching sessions and regular staff meetings help to create clarity for your team.
Engagement isn't just about having happy employees. It's about having productive employees. And productivity increases your revenues and impacts your bottom line. Productive employees tend to be happier, which decreases your turnover rates. This all adds up to a more profitable business.
Now, I'd love to hear from you. In the comments section, tell me:
What is one thing you do to keep your employees engaged?
Laurie Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR, is a certified executive coach, leadership consultant and founder of Envision Excellence, LLC in the Washington, D.C., area. Her mission is to create exceptional cultures by teaching leaders how to be exceptional. Maddalena facilitates management and executive training programs and team-building sessions and speaks at leadership events. Prior to starting her business, she was an HR executive at a $450 million credit union. Contact her at 240.605.7940 or email@example.com.