5 Tips to Increase Workplace Engagement

Guest post by Naphtali Hoff:

The statistics
about worker disengagement are staggering. We read all the time about how workplace
engagement levels are low here in the U.S. and even lower around the world.
Loss of productivity is estimated to cost employers hundreds of millions of
dollars annually, if not billions. And it all stems from how disconnected folks
feel from the people working around them, the work that they do each day, and
the purpose that it serves to them and to others.

Workplace
connection results in many benefits, including stronger communication, greater
synergy, enhanced anticipation of others’ needs and worries / concerns, and,
last but certainly not least, increased worker engagement. When we feel
connected, we operate with a sense of purpose and utilize our many talents and
abilities to advance that purpose, consciously as well as subconsciously.  

The need for connection
at work is perhaps stronger today than ever before. It has become an
expectation, especially amongst younger workers, that the workplace be a source
of meaning and intention, not just a place at which to collect a paycheck.

Ironically, the
technological communication that has become the hallmark of Millennials –
texting, social media, and the like, even when in close physical proximity –
has in many ways served to connect us only superficially, leaving us hungry for
the deep, meaningful and fulfilling linkage that only direct, interpersonal
communication with real emotion sharing can achieve.

Without
question, it falls on the boss to create a culture that promotes engagement
through modeling, messaging, and educating. The following are tips to help
leaders create an engaging workplace that gets the most out of its workers.  

1. Create a clear vision

Leaders
have the responsibility to be visionaries. Particularly in today’s
uber-competitive marketplace, it is more critical than ever for leaders to understand
their roles as storytellers and dream weavers in order to inspire continued
motivation, creativity and growth.  

There are four things to keep in mind when communicating a
vision. One, a vision should be simple, vivid, impactful and repeatable. Simple
means that the meaning is plain and uncomplicated. When President Kennedy
presented a vision for the space program, he did not indulge in complex
verbiage. He kept things simple. The goal is to land a man on the moon before
the end of the decade (1960’s). Though he did not live to see it, the steps of
Neil Armstrong made his dream a reality.

Two, a compelling vision is vivid. Metaphor, analogy, and
example all serve as excellent ways through which to crystalize the objective.

Three, visions
should be impactful and include big ideas. Big ideas are what get people
excited. People want to feel motivated about coming to work and doing their
jobs. They want to feel that what they do matters.

Finally, visions should be repeatable. Distill them to but a
few words, a catchy slogan, jingle or mnemonic. The idea should be able to be
spread by anyone to anyone. In this way, they are kept front and center in
people’s minds and have the greatest impact.

2. Make people feel valued

Workplace
morale rises when workers feel that their efforts are valued (oral
acknowledgments are good, written notes and goodies are even better) and they
are given a chance to shine. They also begin to see their work as part of a
bigger effort, which adds to their feeling of belonging.

3. Communicate clearly and often

People are more
engaged when they are in regular touch with their superiors and peers and
receive valuable information that helps them do their jobs and stay connected
to the goings-on around them. 

4. Give them a voice

Close the
circle by making communication two-way. Give your people the chance to have
their voices heard, in (depending on your company size) town halls, small group
meetings or one-to-one conversations. Also use surveys and similar data
collection tools to gather feedback.   

5. Make room for mistakes

Mistakes are
inevitable, especially when we ask our people to leave their comfort zones to
learn new skills and take on new projects. Communicate that effort is most
important and that so long as your people are making their best efforts,
mistakes will not only be tolerated but even valued.

Naphtali Hoff,
PsyD,
 (@impactfulcoach) became an executive coach and organizational
consultant following a career as an educator and school administrator. Read his
blog at
impactfulcoaching.com/blog
and his new leadership book, “
Becoming
the New Boss
.”