Employees are considered to be the most important asset at your company, which means business objectives can’t be accomplished without them. As a result, your executives agree that anything that can be done to ensure that these critical resources are more productive and engaged is a win, right?
Of course! Well…
You can invest in employee engagement as long as it doesn’t cost a thing.”
Sound familiar? Unfortunately, when executives think about employee engagement, their focus is often on the expense side of the equation. Activities and programs to measure or increase “employee engagement” get squeezed into tightly managed overhead budgets. These also become the first items that are cut if the business outlook becomes partly cloudy.
Thankfully, the sharpest talent advisors know that employee engagement is about emotional commitment to the organization and the organization’s goals.
So, how can you increase your employees’ emotional commitment without a budget?
1. Connect their work to a higher purpose.
Consider this example of how a janitor at the Mayo Clinic responded to a journalist who asked if he was cleaning a room for the next patient.
No. I’m saving people’s lives.”
When questioned about his answer, the janitor explained that one of the biggest dangers in health care facilities is bacteria and unsanitary conditions, which may mean the difference between life and death for a patient. Thus, he felt as responsible for saving lives at the hospital as ER doctors and first responders.
To capture the hearts and minds of your employees, you must help them understand how their specific job affects the end product or service – and how their work matters.
2. Enable progress by removing obstacles.
What happens on a great day at work? In a study conducted by Harvard researchers, over 12,000 work diary entries were studied in an effort to discover what happened in an employee’s everyday work life that correlated with the highest levels of creative output and satisfaction.
The most common event triggering a “best day” at work response? Any progress made by the individual or by their team. Even a small step forward counted. The most common event triggering a “worst day” response? A setback. (Check out the great book called “The Progress Principle” to learn more about this study.)
Does your organization have out-of-date policies and procedures, office politics/turf wars, or employees who don’t have the tools and resources they need to do their job? To increase employee engagement and emotional commitment, you must remove these obstacles to success and ensure employees are able to make progress in their daily work.
3. Celebrate successes — big and small.
We tend to focus our celebrations of success at work on big, one-time events: achieving record performance, landing new customers, launching new products, or hitting year-end results. These are all important reasons to celebrate. But what about the many steps along the way that were successfully completed by employees in order to achieve these triumphs? Are your leaders trained and encouraged to watch for and recognize these?
A simple “thank you,” high-five or personal note can go a long way to increasing employees’ emotional commitment. In fact, according to Towers Watson, recognition from supervisors and managers can “turbocharge” employee engagement for better workplace productivity and performance.
Don’t give up because you don’t have a budget to purchase new engagement software or tracking survey scores. As a talent advisor, you can positively impact employee engagement — and business performance — by helping your employees to connect their work to a higher purpose, enabling progress and celebrating successes.
Throughout the month of February, the Talent Advisor Portal has been featuring HR leaders who will help you learn why and how and why to invest in talent in 2015 — even on a shoestring budget — and why it’s about more than making them love you. See what you’ve been missing this month. New to Talent Advisor? Sign up here to get new articles delivered to your email inbox.