I’m sure you’ve read just as many articles, blog posts and research on this topic as I have (which is far too many to count). But after my last post on all the benefits and bottom-line results companies with high employee engagement see, I thought I should give you one simple guideline to help your employees decide to engage.

Let’s be clear. You cannot engage your employees. Being engaged with your work is an individual decision every employee makes every day. The best you can do is create work environments and positions with which your employees want to engage.

To that end, here are three things you can do to create such an engaging environment:

1) Match job/role to personal abilities – Everyone is passionate about something. And everyone has things they “can do, but don’t really like to.” Too often, however, we shove people into positions that let them do what they’re passionate about and love doing 25% of the time. Like having your sales reps fill out spreadsheets. I’ve met few sales reps who like spreadsheets – they’d rather be selling! (And you need them to be selling.) So why not give the spreadsheet duties to someone on the team who much prefers to make sure everything is orderly, reported properly and kept track of?

2) Thank employees for their efforts – And be sure to acknowledge progress, not just results. People need to know if they’re doing what you need them to do in the way you need it done. If the only feedback you give is the negative or corrective kind, then most of the time, they’re functioning under the belief that they are doing the right thing because you’re leaving them alone. How much more effective would it be to tell your employees, “Joe, great job working on project X. Your efforts at A, B and C, have really helped the team meet their objectives for delivery much more quickly and at a higher quality. Well done!’

3) Help employees see the greater meaning and purpose in their work – If you make your appreciation and expressions of thanks specific as I illustrated above, you automatically help employees see the bigger picture of their role in contributing to achieving larger company objectives. CLC-Genesee and its parent company, the Corporate Executive Board, proved this in recent research, reporting:

“For instance, ‘One of the biggest levers that we’ve identified is a feeling of connection between what it is an employee does and what the company is all about,’ [Sarah] Johnson, [managing director of CLC-Genesee] says. ‘So if I feel that my work is essential to this business, that it reflects what our company is all about [and] I can see that link and the value of what it is I do, that drives engagement – which then has all sorts of positive consequences.’

“A company’s reward and recognition efforts, Johnson adds, can help reinforce an employee’s feeling that ‘I am valued by this organisation, that I am important here and that I make a contribution.’”

 What steps are you taking to help your employees want to engage? What’d I leave off my short list?

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