Indulging is Not Engaging:

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Get Your Employees to Care!

It is fair to say that one of the biggest issues facing CEOs and employers today is finding and keeping talented employees. Ask any CEO, small business owner, or C-Suite Professional what their biggest challenge is and more often than not they will tell you that employee engagement, or attracting and developing talent, tops the list.

Employee engagement is at an all time low (70% and getting worse… expected to rise to 84%), so it is no wonder Human Resource Directors and engagement consultants are busy coming up with all types of innovative strategies and perks to entice both young and experienced talent to join their ranks and commit to long-time careers. Sometimes I think that looking for work or going on a job interview these days is more like looking for the right spot to go on vacation rather than actually getting a job.

Today’s companies are rolling out the red carpet, and offering all kinds of unique perks to attract and retain top talent. Perks like flextime, virtual working opportunities, spa treatments, game rooms and unlimited PTO. Wow, can you imagine? I hate to sound like a bitter old codger, but when  I was starting out we were lucky to get a week off after our first full year, and leaving early or coming in late (flex time) had to be deducted from your vacation time.

Now, while all of these perks sound great, the problem is that these perks are not doing the trick. Hard to believe, but even a spa treatment combined with an opportunity to come and go at the office may be enough to attract talent, but not enough to keep them or engage them. Why? Because indulging is not engaging, and if you want full employee engagement you need stop focusing on the perks and start focusing on your culture.

First, let’s all get on the same page with the definition of employee engagement. For the purpose of this article let’s just keep it simple. An engaged employee is one who feels committed and emotionally connected to both his company and his job. And while it may seem easier to “buy” connection and commitment than to create it, the truth is that it just cannot be done.

So while indulging employees may be icing on the cake, or a nice way to say thanks for a job well done, it can never replace the foundational strategies you need to fully engage your team.

Here are three strategies to put you on the track to stop indulging your team and start creating true employee engagement:
  1. Paint The Picture – start with the why, the purpose. I think the ‘why’ is one of the most powerful questions in leadership. People need to understand why they are doing something, and then why what they are doing even matters. So, paint the picture, help them both see and understand your vision, and how their role fits into the process.
  1. Find Their Voice– people support what they help create, and everyone buys-in and supports an idea or a goal that they had something to do with. So while the question of what the company needs to accomplish belongs to you, the question of how to do it belongs to your team. Give them a voice, listen to what they have to say, and use their ideas. Then sit back and watch as their commitment levels and their connections keep getting stronger.
  1. Ignite Their Dream – we all want our employees to invest in us, and in our companies. But we need to ask ourselves if we are investing in them. If you want to engage your team, then begin by igniting their dreams. Take the time to discover who they are, what they want, and what they need to learn. Then, help them get there. If you invest in their dream, they will fully engage in yours.

So, while the issue of employee engagement is a growing problem, we need to ask ourselves if we are using the right tools to solve it. Perks and benefits are wonderful, but only after we have done the hard work of building the right culture. Put these three strategies into place to engage your team. Then, if you want to indulge them go right ahead!

winning in the trust and value economyAbout Business Growth Expert Meridith Elliott Powell  

An internationally certified coach, consultant, speaker and author, Meridith Elliott Powell has earned an enthusiastic following among industry leaders across the nation.

She’s an active member of the National Speakers Association, the Carolinas Speakers Association, the American Society of Training and Development, the American Banker’s Association, and Lessons in Leadership.

photo by phaendin