Some of the most inspiring leaders today recognize that employees are at the heart of their business. As JW Marriott said, “If you take care of your people, your people will take care of your customers, and your business will take care of itself.” You’ve probably heard this before. The challenging part is getting past that theory and effectively engaging your team members in a way that drives your organization’s success.
How do you proactively address and overcome the challenge of increasing employee engagement? We asked our team to share their thoughts:
Samantha Goldman, Associate
There’s no one-size fits all solution to increase “employee engagement.” It’s crucial to take stock of what your organizational values are, what you want your “Employer Branding” to be and how it aligns with your external brand. Then, think about what kind of talent you want to attract and how you can do that in the competitive marketplace you’re in.
You might realize you need to offer more perks like flexible work hours, or you might need to provide more leadership development opportunities internally. To get you started, you can take a look at your top performers and ask them what engages them most about working at your company, and what they’d like to see more of, and go from there.
It’s also important to consider the difference between employee happiness and employee engagement, as they are often confused. While the benefits you offer may keep your employees happy, engaged employees will go above and beyond for the company and its success.
Bradford Blevins, Partner
Engagement from employees first starts with Leadership defining and embodying a culture of camaraderie about and around what the firm stands for and how things get done. We at gothamCulture focus on commitment, integrity and maniacal pursuit of excellence. You can feel it and see it in how the Partners speak to clients, how project scope and product/service quality is assessed, and in the high performance expectations set upon each member of the firm, at every level, from Intern to Sr. Associate to Partner.
Healthy competition is key to finding the best solution, or most unique impactful new model of work. This type of performance competition aligns with gothamCulture’s core value of maniacal pursuit of excellence. The pursuit of excellence that we embody can be rewarded and encouraged through verbal recognition and praise for new unique solutions that are used on client projects as a better way of doing business.
Healthy competition promotes new ideas, which promotes energized eagerness by staff to design and implement their concepts, which leads to a feeling of higher purpose and accomplishment within the organization, and ultimately, client and firm success. It’s a win-win.
Employee engagement also comes fromhaving Defined Roles & Responsibilities (to some extent) along with the ability to have dedicated time to think/brainstorm and design, not just get tasks done.
In our consulting world here at gothamCulture, our staff feel more engaged if they have the time to take one of their concepts and collaborate with their colleagues to implement them. The concepts move through a life cycle of: design-test-pilot-share-learn-redesign-test-pilot-share-confirm-implement. We ensure this time and life cycle is built in to the sometimes overly demanding schedules of client facing work.
Ultimately, it ensures better service and products, promotes innovation, and ensures our team is engaged in the success of the organization.
Mark Emerson, General Manager
There’s value in a lot of smaller, non-financial benefits that add up to the overall culture of caring about employees. Focus on dollars and pretty soon that’s all your employees will care about.
One huge benefit we share at gothamCulture is our incredible flexibility. We give our team ownership of their own schedule and getting the work done. To support this flexibility, we have an unlimited vacation policy, and a bonus structure to make sure they’re motivated to work hard.
Benefits to the personal and professional growth of employees are some of the most underutilized by companies today. Let’s face it; most employees are really just preparing for our next job, so the focus for most employers should be how to make the relationship as productive and satisfying for both parties while it lasts.
Google, Microsoft and Amazon are held up as having these fantastic benefits, but they are grounded in the idea that they want to keep their employees working. They will gladly feed you, do your dry cleaning, wash your car, build a gym, take care of your kids, and a hundred other things as long as you stay focused and work! When you have that many employees, getting them to save even an hour a week on all those small little tasks adds up to thousands of hours gained back and being productive.
At the end of the day, I believe that employees want to be a part of an organization that values their input and time and respects their personal life requirements. A company does this with benefits like flexible time, modeling work/life balance, treating employees like adults, and sitting down with them to map out their plan for personal growth.
Above all, I think it is communication in both directions that helps build that relationship. It goes a long way when employees can see their thoughts and actions have meaning within their organization.
Empowering Your People
True engagement begins from the heart of your business and works it’s way out through your people and their behaviors. Your employees want to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. And it’s up to you as a leader to equip them with the right tools to empower their success.
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It starts with your core values as a compass to guide your strategy. Empower your employees by sharing your values and purpose. Allow them to collaborate with you in a way that supports their own personal growth, so they feel fulfilled in their daily work. This is the foundation for employee engagement.