Top 10 Ways To Increase Employee Engagement And Company Loyalty
Company leaders can make employees feel valued when they focus on employee engagement and communicate the vision of the company and the significance of employee contributions. A valued employee is more loyal, more productive, a better advocate of the brand and more motivated to work toward the greater good of the company. Here are 10 ways to increase employee engagement, starting with creating a positive and productive first day for new employees.
1. Set up a better onboarding process. Most companies have employees show up the first day, fill out a bunch of forms, fumble around getting their phone and desk organized and then send them on their way. How does that make a new hire feel welcome and valued? Instead, make the process personal and take the time to make sure the mundane tasks are dealt with before they walk in the door. Trust me, having business cards ready for them on the first day makes a huge difference.
2. Create a buddy system. Give the new hire someone who is available right away to help them figure out your processes, procedures and culture. Provide incentives to buddies so the job is done properly, and provide buddies with a training process so there is a set of expectations for helping the new hire through the first day, first week and first month.
3. Set up meetings with key department heads the first week. Give the new hire the opportunity to have face-to-face, private time with department heads so they know who these people are and what their responsibilities are so they can gather intelligent information on how to help that person do their job better, and vice versa.
4. Hold a department meeting on the first day. Having a departmental meeting on the new employee’s first day is key to any onboarding process. Make the meeting about introductions and finding out about each other—and that is it.
5. Don’t assume that posting something on the bulletin board means it will be understood. How many times have you posted or emailed an important message and assumed that what you said was clear without giving employees the opportunity to ask questions, clarify or understand why a new policy or procedure was going into effect? Learning to communicate more effectively, with response mechanisms in place, allows employees to have a clearer understanding of what needs to be done and why.
6. Listen. Develop a mechanism your employees can use to voice their opinions, and give them avenues to be heard, understood and engaged. Every idea is not an amazing one, but it is incredible how many great ideas get missed every day because employees fear their opinions don’t matter.
7. Lead by example. All employees—from the CEO down— should live by the company’s values. If openness and honesty are key, then the CEO should exhibit behaviors that reflect that and ensure that those behaviors are reinforced through all levels of the team.
8. Cross-train for understanding. The more employees understand the entire business and not just their corner of it, the more valuable they are to the company. It is not just about being able to step in during a crisis. Employees should be trained to understand how different departments work and think so they have a better understanding of how the entire business operates and what’s important to its success.
9. Encourage interdepartmental meetings. Cross-departmental meetings are vital to helping people feel informed, and they allow for greater productivity and understanding between teams. Imagine if operations, sales, marketing, customer service and human resources were all on the same page and were aware of major shifts in the business before they happened? This would lead to greater productivity, less stress and better implementation across all departments.
10. Get rid of the mission/ vision statements and create a brand story. If you take away nothing else from this article, focus on this point: People do not read, understand or remember mission and/or vision statements. Why? Because they are just words on a page that are read once and then ignored by most companies. There is no long-term context, and people do not have a clear understanding of how they affect their day-to-day lives within the company.
A brand story describes what the company is, where it wants to go, who it serves and what problems it solves. Employees can relate to this. Your brand story can be easily shared with new hires and retold on an ongoing basis as a reminder. It gives employees something visionary that they can share with clients, no matter where they work in the company. A brand story gives people a reason to understand why the company does what it does, who it is trying to help and what problems it solves. This knowledge gives employees a clear sense of purpose, which leads to better engagement and longer tenure.
Always Have A Story To Tell
I cannot begin to tell you how important having stories to tell is in developing and maintaining your personal brand. We all learn from stories and we remember them. Your brand stories give people mental hooks as to why they should think of you when they need whatever you can offer them.
What do I mean by that? You need to have stories that illustrate who you are, what you do, why you do it, and the value that you provide. You need to paint a visual picture of your value in the eyes of those who you wish to influence. For example, “tell me a little bit about yourself” is something that I hear at least once a week. People want to know something about the people they do business with. Having that information in a story format allows you to easily recall it, tell it, and have it be engaging and coherent every time you tell it. Otherwise, you are stammering for an answer, and that impresses no one. It is not about telling people your life story, unless they ask you for it; it is about having a few salient points at the ready that tell people who you are and what you do.
For example, I have been living in Vancouver now most of my life. I have traveled pretty much halfway around the world and lived overseas, but Vancouver has always been home. I got married about 21 years ago and have one son in high school. He is way brighter than I am—then again, so is my wife. I work with clients to help them tell compelling stories and engage their audiences in meaningful ways. What about you?
It is short, and to the point, but it is more than just work-related. It has a human factor to it and gives people reason to ask more questions.
The key to powerful personal brand stories is that they have to be authentic. They have to be in your voice and come naturally to you. They need to entice your audience to want to know more and not be so long that they become distracting.
Tailor your story to your audience. Ask others about themselves first, actively listen, and find out what their passions are. Possibly, you will find something that you both have in common like cooking, golf or tango dancing. Who knows? But if you listen, you will have a better chance of relating to them on their level. It is not as much about what they say, but how they say it. If they are soft spoken, do not be loud and boisterous. If they do not share an enormous amount of detail, be succinct. If they are animated, you know it is ok to be the same, if that is part of your personality. Be curious, watch, listen, observe body language and intonation. All these will give you hints as to the style and mannerisms of the person you are talking to, and knowing those things allows you to engage in a way that is not going to be perceived as threatening or boorish.
Excerpted from Powerful Personal Brands by Ben Baker.
Ben Baker is president of Your Brand Marketing, a strategic engagement marketing firm. He consults, teaches and speaks on how to stop being a commodity and how to become a brand worth loving. His new book, Powerful Personal Brands, will be available on September 5 on Amazon. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.