Improving Employee Engagement: It Starts with Managers

Improving Employee Engagement: It Starts with Managers

Staff engagement among the U.S. workforce has remained steady at 33 percent over the past few years, according to recent data from Gallup. This is quite low considering that strong employee engagement is the catalyst for company growth and success. Numbers worldwide are even starker, with 87 percent of workers reporting being disengaged at the office.

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As managers across the country scramble to increase feelings of ambition, connection and enthusiasm among employees, they should first start by looking within. While a wide range of factors can impact one’s feeling of involvement within his or her company, poor management ranks at the top. Managers are reportedly responsible for 70 percent of feelings of imbalance and discontentment. The good news is that there are a number of simple, effective ways managers can boost employee engagement.

“A great leader understands that the success of a company relies heavily on the dedication, commitment and achievements of the employees,” says Suzanne Rice, director of global franchise development for MRINetwork. “By creating an environment that encourages open communication and fosters trust, managers have the opportunity to empower their employees to not only become engaged, but to go above and beyond.”

Rice provides the following tips for raising employee engagement:

1. Cultivate trust
Cultivating an environment of trust is an important way to ensure that all staff members feel valued, heard and comfortable. Trust is not just about leaders acting in a fair or equitable manner, being accountable, or honoring the agreements that they’ve made with staff. Employees also want to feel their managers will back them up in tough or negative situations, even sharing in the blame when necessary. When an environment of trust is created in this manner, it strengthens relationships with employees, making them more likely to want to work hard and do well. On average, those with supportive supervisors are 67 percent more engaged in the company, based on data from The Energy Group.

2. Promote open communication
Regular meetings, consistent social contact and open channels for communication are key for promoting open and honest dialogue between managers and employees. When managers are empathetic and aware of others, they’re more likely to be in tune with the general consensus among employees. Responding to all questions, concerns and feedback – and taking each one seriously – in an adequate time frame confirms that each employee’s voice is heard and valued.

3. Maintain visibility
Rather than being tucked away in a corner office with the door frequently closed, managers should be accessible and visible throughout the workplace. Doing so makes employees feel more comfortable reaching out and asking questions. It also further enhances open communication. Along the same lines, recognizing the hard work and accomplishments of employees is just as important. Publicly acknowledging the work of staff members encourages a healthy commitment to advancing the organization’s mission.

4. Lead by example
When managers lead by example, not only are employees more likely to remain at the company, they’re also much more engaged. Workers don’t just want their leaders to be accountable, they want managers to provide mentorship and guidance for how to be more effective, based on their own experience. By demonstrating the behaviors and qualities that are expected of staff members, and investing time in developing direct reports, managers can boost engagement and improve work ethic.

“Improving employee engagement should be at the forefront of a manager’s responsibilities, and holding themselves accountable is the most effective way to do that,” adds Rice. “When managers are open, flexible and authentic, employee happiness and engagement will naturally skyrocket.”