7 Ways to Improve Employee Engagement

Employee motivation can be like the stock market: Sometimes it's stable, and other times it drops and gives you a massive scare. The main difference? You have some control over employee engagement. Most of the time, you can even pinpoint certain factors that contribute to an employee's disengagement, and once you figure that out, you can work on finding a solution. Here are seven tips to help you prevent a recession in your employee engagement.

1. Set realistic expectations

If you promise an employee you'll take care of him, you'd better make sure it's clear what the mutual expectations are—and that you can each deliver on them. Sometimes, a leader can get so excited and make promises about sal-aries, benefits and perks, only to later realize he doesn't have the resources to make good on those promises. When that happens, you're giving your employee oppor-tunities to become disengaged. Instead, try being more conservative with your promises and overdeliver when possible.

2. Trust employees

Empowering employees is vital to increasing their engagement. If they always feel you're micromanaging them, they'll feel like you don't trust them to do their jobs. And if they're not trusted, they're not going to be engaged. Employees are going to make mistakes, but it's your job as a supervisor to turn those mistakes into teachable moments that help them become better. If you really don't trust an employee, that's a sign you need to cut the cord and find someone else.

3. Invest in their training

Richard Branson once said, "Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don't want to." It's so true that training employees and investing your time and money in them are worthwhile efforts, but sometimes, we hold back because we worry they could leave the company. If you have this fear, you will never retain top talent.

4. Show that you value them

This goes back to the second part of Branson's quote. It's so important to create meaningful relationships with your employees. This doesn't mean you need to be a drinking buddy, but it does mean you should take a moment to write them a personal note every once in a while. Thank each one for their performance. Congratulate an employee when something exciting happens in his life. If she's having a hard time moving into a new place, send her a gift certificate to her favorite furniture store. Anything that shows employees you see them as more than a cog in the wheel will be valuable.

5. Invest in their brands

Too many companies are scared to do this because they feel like it increases the chances of an employee leaving. In reality, you'll lose an employee if you don't invest in his brand. The best employees I've seen aren't motivated primarily by money; they're motivated by the goal of being a stronger industry leader.
Encourage employees to build and maintain solid social profiles, write and publish in industry publications, and speak at important events. Not only will this help your brand, it will also show your employees that you support them growing as professionals.

6. Create a high-performance work environment

Encouraging a results-oriented en-vironment gives employees more opportunities to be engaged. While engaging your workers is mostly your responsibility, it's also the responsibility of your employees. Set goals together, and if they aren't met consistently, make an adjustment. In fact, if they aren't interested in contributing to a high-performing environment, they'll typically filter themselves out of your company.

7. Play to their strengths

People love to do what they're good at. Even if the process isn't fun, most people enjoy the natural sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a project. Playing to your employees' strengths doesn't mean you shouldn't challenge them to improve, but it does mean that you should make sure you focus on each employee's super strength to get the job done.

Being honest with your employees, showing them you value them, and giving them plenty of opportunities to become more involved with the company and its success are all great ways to improve engagement. Give these seven tips a try, and watch the en-gagement rate at your company rise.

John Hall

co-founder and CEO of Influence & Co., a company focused on helping brands and individuals extract and leverage their expertise to create, publish and distribute content to gain influence, visibility and credibility with their key audiences.