It’s easy for employees to fall into stale routines that leave them feeling unsatisfied and unappreciated. Keeping employees engaged for the long haul is one of the hardest parts of managing. Luckily, these 5 strategies are here to help you keep them invested and energized, so you can keep making the most of their talents.
1. Goal Setting
It’s easier for employees to stay focused when they know what they should be focusing on. Setting tangible goals and sticking to them is an easy way to help employees identify the most important parts of their role. It creates a clear rubric for success that builds trust between managers and employees (and makes it easier to recognize a job well done—see number 5 on this list).
Of course, goal setting isn’t enough on its own. They also have to stay accountable for those goals. Set up regular check-ins and revisit short-term and long-term goals frequently.
2. Team Building Activities
Team building activities have a cringe-worthy reputation, but they really do work when done right. A friendly, tight-knit office culture helps encourage collaboration and creativity.
Here are some tips for choosing team building activities that your employees will actually appreciate:
- Don’t invade privacy: Steer clear of topics that are better left to psychologists or close friends.
- Don’t let any one person dominate the conversation: Set time limits on sharing and don’t be afraid to interrupt if someone is talking too much or taking the conversation off-topic.
- Get group buy-in: Ask for feedback ahead of time and make a good faith effort to accommodate requests; steer clear of high-intensity activities that are likely to be polarizing, such as rock climbing.
It’s important to remember that office team building activities aren’t support groups or family reunions. It’s okay to keep your team building shallow and professional rather than intense and personal. A productive strategic planning session with a few icebreakers mixed in can be a more effective team building exercise than an entire day of trust falls.
3. Training and Skill-Building
Investing in your employees helps keep them invested in you. Employee training doesn’t just bring new skills to your business—it also makes them feel valued.
If you're a small business with little to no training budget, a subscription to an online education service is one way to provide your employees with affordable training. You can also check for free local conferences and meet-ups for your industry. Creating an internal mentorship program is another option, allowing senior employees to pass their knowledge on to junior ones.
Mentorship programs foster connections between junior and senior employees and help cement new skills. They also assist in cross-training efforts.
You could choose to create an internal program, matching employees up based on interest, or seek out existing mentorship programs through professional associations. These external programs have the added benefit of bringing outside perspectives to your organization.
5. Employee Recognition
Well-run employee recognition programs can have a dramatic impact on morale and retention. Tips for running a successful program include"
- Keep awards merit-based: Joke awards like “best dressed” are a recipe for hurt feelings.
- Don’t do participation trophies: Make sure that recognition is based on actual merit or it will quickly feel like a waste of time.
- Offer good prizes: Consider cash bonuses or extra time off in lieu of symbolic gestures like plaques or trophies.
- Don’t show favoritism: Don’t do a fully catered party for one employee and then cookies and lemonade for another, unless there is a significant and obvious difference in status or achievement.
Don’t forget to give employees a public shout-out while they're being recognized. The feeling of being publicly appreciated by a peer or manager can be even sweeter and more motivating than cold, hard cash.
These 5 strategies will give a boost to employees' job satisfaction and your business's bottom line alike. Win-win scenarios do exist after all.