Today’s guest post comes from Darren Sprod of Halogen Software:
Organisations talk a lot about employee engagement, and some go to great effort and expense to install comforts and conveniences meant to put smiles on employee faces. But unless it matters to employees, it’s just another HR program that’s not helping to support business goals. While employees may appreciate coffee bars, blue jeans days and social media interaction, employee engagement research consistently shows that the type of employee engagement initiatives that inspire employees to give the best of themselves is more elemental and less tangible. And though what is most meaningful varies by individuals, there is a remarkable consistency in the main themes that transcend time and demographics.
If I could summarise what employee engagement surveys show in a few words, I would say that employees want to feel connected to their organisations – to feel that the time and effort they invest makes a difference and is valued. Or, as described in a recent Harvard Business Review article on employee engagement, they want the opportunity to bring their authentic selves to work for authentic leaders in an authentic organisation.
What can HR leaders do to foster meaningful employee engagement? Much can be done by focusing on your organisation’s talent management practices. For example:
Goal setting. By linking individual performance goals to departmental and organisational priorities, employees gain a line of sight to how their efforts directly impact organisational strategy. Leaders can use this process as an opportunity to communicate about organisational needs and struggles with transparency and authenticity.
Clear performance goals provide objective criteria upon which managers can evaluate employee performance, allowing employees to feel they are being evaluated and compensated fairly and consistently.
A recent blog on this site cautions against the damage that can occur related to setting goals. To avoid unintended consequences and increase employee engagement, involve employees in setting their own goals in partnership with their managers.
Coaching for high performance. Authentic leaders know how to bring the best out of their employees. Poor leaders often don’t lack motivation but only the opportunity and training to provide regular positive and constructive feedback that enables employees to understand what they need to start, stop or continue. Employees recognise and appreciate when managers and supervisors see themselves as coaches, removing barriers, providing opportunities and mitigating weaknesses to free those under their management to do their best work. Encourage leaders to not only provide effective feedback but also invite and respond appropriately to feedback themselves.
Employee development. Employees value an organisation that takes the time to understand and value their individual strengths and passions, and gives them opportunities to develop. Look for the sweet spot where organisational needs, employee gifts and career aspirations all come together and create assignments, offer development and provide opportunities that allow engaged employees to give their best where it matters most.