5 Questions You Need to Ask to Engage Your Employees

In the past, we’ve talked a lot about how to get the best out of your employees, whether they’re software developers, testers, or other kinds of office workers. The reasons why managers and supervisors want to encourage this behavior is obvious; productive employees use their time more effectively, which results in a higher return on investment for the company. But even if you give your employees all the tools they need to be successful, they may still face difficulties if they’re not properly engaged in their work and the company.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement refers to the relationship between a business and its employees. This concept was originally defined by William Khan in his paper, Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work, in December of 1990. Over time, the concept has been refined into the theory that highly engaged employees will typically outperform employees with lower levels of engagement, if all other factors are equal. So what makes engaged employees stand out from their peers?

Engaged employees are typically fully invested in their work and are motivated to invest greater effort into helping a business meet its objectives. Before, we’ve talked about posting metrics to show employees the progress of their work and help them visualize achieving their goals. Employees with low engagement will consistently do the minimum amount of work expected of them, while highly engaged employees will frequently go above and beyond. They care about the quality of work they’re producing

If engagement is so important, why are we so bad at it?

Who remembers this scene? Who IS this scene?

Unfortunately, as of May 2016, employee engagement in the United States has dipped below 33%, with Millennials making up the largest group of disengaged employees. While some may be quick to point to “millennial sense of entitlement and laziness,” and the distraction of social media as the cause, many millennials insist this isn’t so. Many find it hard to be engaged in a company whose primary focus is on profit. They like to feel that their contributions are making a positive impact on the company, and society as a whole.

So in this age of disengaged employees, what can be done to turn things around?

Employee engagement surveys have been one of the most popular tools for measuring employee satisfaction for over 30 years, with Gallup’s Q12 as the most widely known example. However, while polling employees is a good way to gain feedback, surveys like the Q12 are only distributed once or twice a year and aren’t the best for pinpointing short term issues that require immediate action. While having a long term strategy for maintaining employees is never a bad thing, people often need a little more hands-on approach to make it through the week.

If you’re wondering what it is that makes an employee satisfied, take a glance at the Q12 survey one more time. Those twelve questions haven’t been changed in roughly 20 years, and for good reason. Each question represents a core need that employees must have fulfilled to be fully productive at work. And it’s not things quality of coffee in the breakroom or how fast the internet is running. While those are definitely issues that may need to be addressed, they are not going to be the make or break deal that sends them on the hunt for a new job.

However, if employees feel their concerns and opinions aren’t important to the company, that may be enough to nudge them towards the door. Taking care of small things around the office acknowledges employee input and shows them that the company has heard their voice.

How can we use the techno-world to improve engagement?

Niko Niko’s user interface is cheerful and easy to use, giving a friendly face to management check-ins. Image courtesy of nikoniko.co

Enter Niko Niko, a smartphone app that enables employees to give daily feedback quickly and easily. A swipe of the finger is all it takes to adjust the happiness meter from frowny face to smiley face, giving employers feedback regarding everything from an employee’s current mood to office specific questions. This quick, easy feedback system allows employers to react to concerns quicker and faster than if they simply waited for someone to speak up. And Niko Niko is not the only option; apps like Culture Amp and Aon Mood Ring also provide employers with ways to survey and track employee satisfaction.

What’s the big takeaway?

Employee engagement is going to remain one of the top indicators of corporate success, especially in the early days of a company. Making sure that employees are mentally and emotionally fulfilled, and providing them with the right tools and direction will make them feel comfortable enough to want to stick around. And trust me, an employee that believes in the work they do is going to provide a much higher ROI than any ping pong table or Friday beer fridge.

Though the Friday beer fridge is pretty sweet.

2017-01-29T18:06:21-04:00June 30th, 2016|Business Practices|

About the Author:

Andrew is a technical writer for Deep Core Data. He has been writing creatively for 10 years, and has a strong background in graphic design. He enjoys reading blogs about the quirks and foibles of technology, gadgetry, and writing tips.

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