Are your employees truly engaged at work? Gallup reports that only 32% of U.S. workers were engaged in 2015, and even more startling, only 13% of workers worldwide were engaged. Harvard Business Review states that since 2000, less than one-third of U.S. workers have been engaged in their job. Clearly this is an ongoing problem that cannot be ignored. Unengaged workers underperform in comparison to their engaged counterparts, they negatively affect the company’s bottom line, and they’re willing to leave at anytime for a position elsewhere that promises more engagement.

Various actions can be taken to engage employees more and boost their performance. Some are straightforward and easy to do; others are subtle intangibles that aid in creating an enjoyable work environment and enhancing productivity and efficiency:

1. Strong, Personable Managers Boost Employee Performance

You must have strong, personable managers in place who form real relationships with those working under them in order to engage employees and boost performance. Studies have found that the single most important variable to employee happiness and retention is the relationship employees have with their immediate manager. This “manager effect” accounts for 70% of employee engagement. If that relationship is strained or broken, the employee will not be happy.

In fact, 50% of U.S. employees admit to leaving a job at some point in their career in order to flee from a poor supervisor.

If you have leaders in place who negatively impact employees, they will begin to distrust the company because it has allowed someone in a leadership position who should not be.

2. Create a “Want To” Environment For More Engaged Employees

To engage employees and boost performance, you must cultivate a “want to” environment instead of a “have to” one. No one functions well in a stressful, tense environment. Sure, it works for the short term; but long-term productivity and innovation die under such conditions. A “want to” environment allows employees to feel unlimited and free in what they can do and achieve.

Tied heavily into creating a “want to” environment is giving freedom to your employees to succeed or fail. Allow your employees room to discover, explore and take chances. This means: Don’t be a micromanager. Micromanaging creates an instantaneous “have to” environment. Nothing stifles employee creativity and ingenuity faster than a micromanager.

3. Be Honest, Have Integrity and Lead out of Respect

Be honest, straightforward and full of integrity. No one likes working for or with a person who is dishonest, sneaky and has questionable integrity. Employees prefer to know where they stand and not have to figure out their position on any given day. If they feel they can’t trust you, they will disengage to protect themselves.

Being honest and having integrity also builds respect. Sharing yourself, your life, your successes and failures creates admiration and encourages your workers to care for you because they feel you care for them.

4. Improve Communication To Improve Employee Engagement

Employees are most engaged when they have daily communication with their immediate supervisor. This can be in the form of emails, texts, phone conversations, Skyping or face-to-face interactions. These are opportunities to garner feedback, brainstorm, develop new ideas, and simply to encourage good work.

Face-to-face meetings should include necessary exchanges of information and ideas, not just “another meeting that could have been an email.” They should be productive sessions for collaboration and sharing information. Employees subject to useless meetings feel as if their time isn’t respected or valued. A lack of respect for time is a quick way to create resentful employees.

5. Employee Engagement Goes Both Ways

It’s not just the employees who should be engaged, you should also be interested in your workers and their lives. Employees appreciate managers who take the time to get to know them as people. Effective leaders know their employees. They know their families, interests, aspirations and goals. They support them with their families, allowing them to go to parent-teacher conferences or remembering a special anniversary, and they work with them to further their interests and aspirations. Getting to know your employees gives them a feeling of significance and increases engagement and loyalty.

6. Share Your Own Story With Employees

While you’re getting to know your employees, open up and allow them to see you as a person with a family, interests and dreams, not just a “work-bot.” Share your successes and failures so they can see the human side of you. This creates a relationship of trust and openness.

7. Grow Their Strengths To Boost Work Performance

Empowering your workers to explore their full potential is an excellent way to go about boosting employee work performance. See more in them than they see in themselves. Make sure to tell them and take actions that grow their potential. Create opportunities for them to develop their strengths and explore new skills. Allow them to step into leadership roles on projects. Give them new responsibilities and challenges as well as the permission to make mistakes. This encourages them to be themselves and share their talents and skills.

Find out your employees’ goals and help them to attain them. Work to improve your workers and create opportunities for small victories and large conquests. Invest in them and build them up. Could they benefit from going back to school? Is reimbursement for higher education possible? Focus on growing strengths in order to engage employees and boost performance.

8. Offer Opportunities for Employee Advancement

Provide opportunities for real advancement in the organization. If no opportunities exist for employees to move up, they will grow disgruntled. No one wants to sit in a dead end job for years. The best and brightest desire to move upward and will leave to do so. Leadership preparation and training go a long way in boosting employee work performance because employees realize their potential is being noticed.

9. Engage Employees By Sharing Your Vision

You have a vision for the direction of the organization and you should share it in order to engage employees. Invite your workers to participate in it and listen to what they have to say. One of the biggest causes of disengagement is employees feeling disconnected from the organization. If they don’t know and can’t relate to your vision, they won’t feel as connected to the company. Make them feel valuable and recognize their contributions in order to boost employee engagement.

10. Recognize and Reward

Give recognition and rewards for a job well done. Disengaged employees report that they are often blasted for poor performance, but not recognized for good performance. Reward and recognition are excellent ways to motivate employees and boost employee work performance. Among other things, you can reward innovation and ingenuity. This gives your workers permission to take risks that could prove beneficial to the organization without worrying about negative consequences if they fail.

Start Engaging Employees To Boost Their Work Performance

All of the ways to engage employees and boost performance come back to, and revolve around, strong leadership. Employees are searching for effective, personable leaders who create positive, fulfilling relationships with their subordinates and cultivate an environment of productivity and innovation. It serves us well to meet their expectations.

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To learn more about the benefits of employee development, contact Edge Training at 800-305-2025.