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  • Small Business Briefcase: Employee Engagement Supercharges Productivity

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     Happy, satisfied employees make dedicated, productive employees, but what are the “secret do’s” that you can enact to ensure your employees are truly engaged?
    At first glance, it may seem that productivity and employee engagement are two very different things. They are. However, they complement one another: If a company boosts engagement, it will increase productivity. But we must begin with a true definition of employee engagement. Employee engagement does not mean only a fun place to work, an employees “make the rules” environment nor Google- or Facebook-type employee perks such as nap pods or onsite hair salons. Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals, and leadership actions and initiatives toward engagement can create this commitment.
    1. Make sure employees feel valued, just as valued as your best customers. Be genuinely interested in who they are as a person, not just as a worker. Build in time for connectedness with each employee if possible. Hold “touchpoints” with each employee.
    2. Be responsive to issues. Listen to employees and help them solve their work challenges.
    3. Demonstrate that you appreciate their work in a meaningful way. Connect with each employee’s intrinsic needs of meaning from their work.
    4. Help employees find meaning in the bigger picture of the company vision. As the book “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek indicates, leaders should be promoting the “why.” Managers should support the “how.” Then employees can create the “what.”
    5. Provide time and energy for collaborative discussions within teams regarding projects, processes, organizational changes and more.
    6. Allow autonomy of work. Micromanagement kills engagement.
    7. We cannot forget that during this time, remote work is certainly a factor to examine when talking about employee engagement. There are several ways to engage remote workers, but leaders must be diligent and consistent to have a positive effect.
    1. Encourage autonomy by not micromanaging. Robby Slaughter, a productivity expert, said, “The most effective tool for increasing team productivity is having managers back off. The best way to encourage productivity is to encourage individuals to take ownership over how they manage their own time and resources.”
    2. Focus on the future with clear communication. Communication is the key to success. Without effective, two-way communication, relationships end and businesses fail. Managers who effectively communicate clear expectations and responsibilities to their employees will be rewarded with a productive workforce. According to CRM Learning, most of the time (80 percent), managers focus on past work or results of employees. Fifteen percent is spent on what is happening now. And the amount of time spent discussing future solutions and possibilities? Only 5 percent. Talking about and planning for the future brings the positive outcomes desired.
    3. Get more done with remote work. Remote workers are more productive, they log more hours, take less sick leave, perform better and in general, are more engaged at work.
    4. Do not lock down social media. Some employees are using it to take a mental break, others are using social tools to support professional connections, and sure, some are goofing o_. But cracking down on social media platforms to encourage productivity can be a serious morale killer. An Evolv study found that social media “power users” were better multi-taskers, more productive overall, and happier in their jobs.
    5. Provide professional development for employee growth, and offer career growth opportunities.
    6. Influence and take actions to create a great organizational culture. Improve cultural fit by recruiting new employees who complement the existing culture, if the culture is strong and healthy.
    7. Empower your employees by allowing them to set their own goals rather than being dictated by a supervisor. When employees are shown the bigger vision, they can, if allowed, set goals and strategies that will progress the company’s overall goals and achieve greater outcomes.
    Sharleen Smith is the Director of Continuing Education and Outreach of Troy University. She has more than 30 years of experience in organizational consulting and training, including the development of human resource policies and procedures, strategic planning, performance management systems, classification and pay systems, interviewing and onboarding processes, change management, talent management and more. Her training includes more than 250 topics, and she has presented to more than 300,000 people at 15,000 conferences, workshops and seminars. Contact her at gssmith@troy.edu.
    LEARN MORE Intrigued by this topic? Join us at the next Small Business Briefcase on October 6 to discover five more ways to boost employee engagement and five more ways to increase employee productivity. And the panel will also share the three keys to create engagement with remote workers. Register now at montgomerychamber.com/events.
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