7 June 2017

Six things you can do now to engage employees


Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell worked in Ciphr's marketing team from 2012-2020.


Employee engagement Leadership and management Recruitment and retention


Motivating and engaging employees doesn’t need a huge budget for initiatives, it doesn’t require a committee to try and persuade employees to take part in company events and it certainly doesn’t need company policies and procedures dictating how engagement ‘should work’!

There are much simpler, immediate actions that business leaders can take to improve morale, happiness, productivity and engagement within the workforce, and you can start to make them in the next 5 minutes!

1. Say ‘thanks’

Present Gift Craft Twine Tag ConceptAccording to a series of studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people are twice as likely to help an individual again if they received a ‘thank you’ the first time. This is because they felt appreciated being needed and more socially valued when they’d received sincere thanks.
The knowledge that the help they’ve provided is truly appreciated motivates people to do the same in the future and makes them feel happy about themselves, increasing self-esteem and strengthening relationships.

The increased chances of a future offer of assistance are not just limited to the person that said “thanks” either if you thank someone for their help then they’re 30% more likely to help others too.

Saying thanks to new members of staff can also boost the engagement and integration process too. According to a 2104 study published in Emotion, a study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship.
Part of your onboarding strategy should be to ensure that basic ‘please’ and ‘thank you’s’ are observed. It shouldn’t really need to be said but we all know someone that seems to lack this basic life skill.

2. Ask for an opinion

Group Of Designers Having Meeting Around Table In OfficeGreat leaders ask for feedback. The opinion of employees not only helps leaders improve but it also strengthens working relationships, improves trust and makes individuals feel valued within the business.
By asking for feedback, you can motivate employees to perform better. Employees like to feel valued and also appreciate being asked to provide feedback that can help effect business decisions.

In a survey detailed on Harvard Business Review it was found that:

“leaders who ranked in the bottom 10th percentile of asking for feedback were rated at the 15th percentile in leadership effectiveness. While those in the top 10% of asking for feedback from their employees were ranked in the 86th percentile in overall leadership ability.”

– Inc.com

Employee feedback also enables managers to ascertain why employees may be unhappy. This information can be used to help the brand improve its employee engagement processes and strategy to reduce turnover and its associated costs.

“A study of 530 work units with productivity data found that teams with managers who received strengths feedback showed 12.5% greater productivity post-intervention than teams with managers who received no feedback.”

LinkedIn Talent Blog
Most employees would rather work for a manager who shows respect for their opinion. Showing trust in the judgement of subordinates motivates them to contribute more and feel confident in doing so. It’s likely that employees who provide feedback will be more engaged and stay with the company for longer.

3. Show a bit of courtesy

closeup on business woman hand holding elevator doorHolding a door open for a colleague, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’s’, speaking in a polite and respectful way and just saying ‘hello’ in the morning are all examples of basic manners that many forget when in the office.

Showing respect to others by arriving on time for meetings, not texting while someone’s speaking to you, not hiding away all day in your office goes a long way, not only with your subordinates but also your peers.

Manners aren’t bound by seniority and are a way to engage with all levels of staff within an organisation. If the MD opens a door for a temp that’s been with the business a couple of days then that’s a clear indication that they’re approachable and not beyond engaging in a conversation.

Good manners are also reciprocated. Over time good manners will become part of the office culture, making the working day much more pleasant and engaging.

4. Show some kindness

Simple acts of kindness such as making a tea, asking if anyone needs anything from the shops at lunchtime or making something nice to eat for your colleagues and/or subordinates are very effective ways to engage across all levels of the business.

“Researcher Kristin Layous and her colleagues conducted a study examining popularity in kids. Studying over 400 students, they gave each of them the task to perform three acts of kindness or to visit three new places in the span of a few weeks.
The results returned saying that all the kids participating in this study reported being happier than they were before. But the kids who chose to perform acts of kindness were twice as well-liked by their peers than others.”

– The Importance of Being Kind

Business Team Professional Occupation Workplace ConceptThe emotional atmosphere of your office cascades down from senior staff, just like company culture.
If your managers are angry, unhappy or too busy to engage then others in the company will be affected in a negative way. In order to affect change, business leaders need to show kindness and consideration for others. It’s not a case of simply telling people to be kinder to one another.

According to ABC Compassionate people tend to not only be healthier and happier, but also more popular, and even more successful at work. According to Professor Dacher Keltner, a scientist at the University of California-Berkeley, “people trust you more, they have better interactions with you, you even get paid better.

Extending kindness to a new member of staff is a great way to enhance the onboarding process and make them feel more welcome and at ease. Asking them about their interests outside of work shows that you’re interested in them as an individual and not just a resource for the business.

5. Smile

A simple smile can work wonders for morale, motivation and engagement. Smiling makes us more approachable, trustworthy and personable, essential attributes of any successful leader.

“smiling can be as stimulating as receiving up to 16,000 Pounds Sterling in cash.”

Buffer blog

Happy employees are 180% more energised, 155% happier in their jobs, 150% happier with life in general, 108% more engaged and 50% more motivated. They are 50% more productive too.
If you can encourage these results by simply smiling yourself then why wouldn’t you?!

Studies show that something as simple as noticing a friend or colleague smile can activate the muscles in the face to replicate that same expression, without even being aware of doing it.

6. Take an interest

Friends talkingCommunication from managers is a highly prized and sought after trait in a leader, and not just regarding their job. Employees want to feel valued by their manager, as an individual as well as a resource and, as such, an interest should be taken in their lives outside of the office.

Good leaders will engage with their staff about all manner of subjects, not just about their roles within the business but also their interests, families and other non-work related topics.

Employees should feel comfortable speaking to their manager(s) about anything within reason and, if this is the case trust, feedback, ideas and discussion will all improve as a result.
Trusted managers will have a higher level of engagement within their teams leading to improved collaboration and teamwork.