Employee engagement: Four things no manager should be ignoring

If you work in HR then the theory employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers, is not breaking news. Maybe your personal experiences with manager training workshops have done little to make you think differently? Which is why, when it comes to employee engagement, one of the most important factors is the strength of an employee’s relationship with their manager.

Unsurprisingly, building and sustaining effective relationships takes time and effort. Here are 4 key engagement “musts” that no manager should be ignoring.

1. See your employees as individuals

At the heart of employee engagement is the feeling you’re valued. As a manager, you’ll struggle to get that across to your employees if you treat them as a group rather than as individuals. An engaged employee knows their manager genuinely cares about them. Not just in terms of their work but in terms of everything going on in their lives. An effective manager understands employees can’t just ‘switch off’ the personal stuff when they’re in work.

You might think you already know them pretty well. But ask yourself do you really understand what matters to every one of your direct employees? What do they aspire to? Both in and outside work? Do you know what issues or challenges they may be dealing with right now?

Then ask yourself what you can do to support them and help them reach their goals. It could be coaching and mentoring support. It might be understanding issues that are affecting their general wellbeing and finding ways to make their lives easier. It may be helping an employee give back to the community by agreeing to some time off to do voluntary work. The most important thing is it’s something that genuinely supports the employee in their particular circumstances.

2. Recognition is key

One of the main drivers of engagement is employee recognition – increasing engagement by up to 60% according to this report by Towers Watson. Employee recognition creates then maintains strong employee/manager relationships and has a positive impact on bottom-line performance. So make sure you’re continually showing your employees that you are paying attention. Recognition needs to be done in the moment or as close to the moment as you can get. If you save up your thank you’s to dish out occasionally, be aware the impact is going to be brief and limited. It also going to reflect badly on you as a manager.

3. Nurture collaboration

For a team to be effective, its members need to be collaborating and communicating. As the team’s manager you need to trust, encouraging employees to share ideas and opinions without you being the linchpin. Being the team’s collaboration conduit is a definite engagement blocker.

4. Live your company culture and your values

What decisions have you made and what actions have you carried out today that align with your company’s culture and values?

Culture and values are closely linked to engagement and recognition. Your company’s core values should shape the behaviour of everyone in the organisation. Those values, and the behaviours and actions that are linked to them, are amongst the clearest benefits of investing in employee engagement. Why? Because of the customer experience it creates. And the feedback it generates. We live in a socially connected world where the impact of the values and the actions of an engaged workforce will be clearly evident. So keep focused on those values and make sure you’re helping your employees be true to them as well.