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Business leaders: Improve employee morale, engagement and retention

Business leaders: Improve employee morale, engagement and retention

According to a recent survey, over eighty-three percent of workers in the United States and Canada said they were not happy at work and were intending to seek new job opportunities in 2014!

This does not bode well for us, as leaders.

We must take up the call and lead -- setting direction and managing change in a deliberate and thoughtful way. It is our responsibility to establish a work setting that challenges staff to do their best and one that inspires them to go above and beyond the call of duty. By doing this, we can snip the morale problem in the bud and institute an environment where our people can grow and flourish.


Do

Do make engagement a priority

If we don’t place emphasis on engaging our staff, we are unlikely to retain them. People want to feel like that part of something special and placing a bright light on engagement is the first step towards improving morale and performance.

One of the ways to do that is to simply decide to engage. Establish a staff engagement program. Make it multi-dimensional. Include such communication devices as roundtable discussions, fireside chats, “lunch and learns” -- anything to start and keep the conversation alive among management and staff.

Do reach out

Outreach and promotion are essential elements of staff engagement. In fact, it befits an organization to market its vision and its culture to both current and prospective employees.

Firms can use a variety of devices to promote the culture and engage staff. Zappos, for example, has what it calls a Culture Book. Published annually, the book is comprised of pictures, stories and anecdotes contributed by staff members that demonstrate the firm’s culture and values. It’s a means of reaching out and engaging staff.

Do plan for Generation Y

Also known as Millennials, this next generation of worker is bringing with them a myriad of expectations and demands which must be understood in order to suitably inspire and motivate them – remember, they have been told, from an early age, that they were the best, been awarded trophies just for showing up, and were groomed by overly involved parents that hovered like helicopters around them monitoring their every move.

Do measure engagement

People pay attention to how they are measured and judged. By putting engagement measures in place, we can begin to elicit the types of behavior that is needed to support and institute change within an organization.

The best way to measure engagement is to measure results. Is the quality of decision-making improving? Are the quantity of errors diminishing? Is there less waste? Are customers happy? Are we growing? You know that your engagement activities are paying off if you begin to see the business improve.


Don't

Do not promote the old culture

Every organization that embraces change and transformation has an opportunity to cultivate something that is original and exciting. Marketing the new culture is a vital means of building and maintaining a remarkably talented labor force.

So, using news ways to engage like leveraging social media, introducing executive blogs and making use of pop-up messaging are all ways to promote the new culture. Indeed, the very use of these newer communication devices represent a departure from the “old” way of doing things and a step towards the “new” culture that you are building within the organization.

Do not discourage early adopters

We must also ensure that the organization’s vision, and its major strategies by which it will be achieved, are collaboratively developed and commonly understood by all. There will be a subset of staff members that quickly embrace the proposed changes and will wholeheartedly volunteer to assist in making them happen. It is these “early adopters” that we must inspire. They are the ones that will help the leadership team further socialize goals, operationalize strategies and engage other employees in acceptance of the corporate vision and associated transformation program.

Do not be exclusionary

Indeed, organizations are made up of all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds. The best enterprises are the ones that leverage the skills and experiences of everyone within the concern. That said, specific strides should be taken to reach out to and include those people whom may feel disenfranchised because of some real or perceived differences. By making diversity and inclusiveness a priority, we improve the odds of engaging more staff members in the transformation process.

Do not forget to reward results

Once the engagement program is in full swing, a way to promote additional commitment among staff is to tie a reward to it. People will more likely buy-in to the program, if they are rewarded to do so. Therefore, we must tie engagement to the measurement and reward program. The linkage becomes the way in which we incent desired behaviors and gain sought after outcomes, which, in turn, promotes more engagement.


Summary
Jumping cartoon

Most people long for increased responsibility and continued opportunities to advance in their jobs. Indeed, many crave to be recognized as a standout performer among their peers. We must engage our personnel in order to eliminate the bureaucratic controls that can stifle performance and crush morale.

Perhaps, by making a conscientious effort to engage staff in our transformation efforts, we can establish hearty and healthy work environments that afford every staff member the opportunity to display their talents and contribute to business achievement, while increasing job satisfaction and commitment to the enterprise.


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James M. KerrPartner

James M. Kerr, Partner, BlumShapiro Consulting, is the author of The Executive Checklist (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). As a management consultant and organizational behaviorist, Jim specializes in strategic planning, corporate transformation and p...

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