So much has been written about employee engagement and office perks like candy walls, free lunches and bring your dog to work day. These investments in our employees have become staples of the engagement attempt for many companies, especially in tech. However, in terms of employee engagement, it’s a complete waste of money. Such engagement vehicles start off with great fanfare and rapidly become an expectation, dare I say entitlement - their value depreciating quicker than a new car.
If you are serious about increasing employee engagement, there are seven things that will work every time, cost no money and have a return on investment that will last forever.
- Time – Your employees want your time. They want to be you someday and they want to learn how you think and for you to provide a window into parts of the business that they don’t have visibility. They want to talk about families, dogs, kids and life outside of work. They want to get to know you on a personal, human basis. And they want you to get to know them.
- Honesty – An employee can smell BS a mile away. When you tell them they didn’t get a raise because there was a lack of budget, they know it’s a lie. They want you to be honest because they want to trust you and work for someone who they believe in.
- Feedback – Employees don’t want you to just tell them what they are doing that’s great. They want to know what they need to improve upon – even if it is just your perception and even if it isn’t backed up by metrics. They want to know how to improve and they need your help in doing so.
- Fairness – Employees talk and fairness is critical. They want to know why a coworker makes more than them even if they aren’t supposed to know what that colleague makes. They aren’t going to ever ask you about it but they still need to understand. When issues arise in the business with multiple culprits, they want you to hold everyone equally accountable.
- Opportunities – Employees don’t always want opportunities for promotional advancement but they always want opportunities for skill advancement. Doing the same thing over and over results in boredom and employees want to get involved in new things. They want to contribute and expand their experiences.
- Consistency – No one can work for a manager whose character shifts with the weather. The unpredictability creates anxiety in the entire team. Great managers are consistent in everything – communication, goals, activity, and work ethic. Consistency creates a high level of predictability that makes everyone feel safe and allows the team to focus on the task at hand as opposed to wasting time worrying about the current emotional state of the manager.
- Connect the Dots – Every employee wants to understand how the job he or she performs on a daily basis fits into the overall mission of the company. They want to directly tie their contribution to the quarterly analyst call. They want to see the fruits of their labor as benefiting something bigger than they could achieve on their own. Great managers connect those dots for every employee.