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Authentically Invest in Employee Engagement

Ask 10 people: “what helps you feel motivated and engaged at work?” and you’re likely to get 10 or more different responses! Meaningful work. Being part of a great team. Feeling challenged. The paycheck. Flexible work schedule. Recognition. A commitment to producing high quality work. Autonomy. Great benefits. A sense of fun. Getting results more efficiently and more effectively for our clients. Connecting with others.

As leaders, it can seem daunting to try to manage a team of different people, motivated by various elements, particularly when it’s not possible to provide more money, a step increase, or a new title. As important as compensation and benefits are for motivating employees, they’re not the only things that matter. Intrinsic rewards, such as learning, personal fulfillment, or aligning with an organization’s compelling mission play a significant role in maintaining and enhancing engagement at work.

Organizations with high engagement enjoy increased productivity, lower turnover, decreased absenteeism, increased profitability, and higher customer satisfaction. Leaders who prioritize making connections with their team members to enhance employee engagement can have a positive impact on the emotional attachment that employees feel toward their organization, role, and team. Everyone benefits when employees are committed to high quality job performance and when they recognize the value of collaborating with peers.

Consider these 4 strategies to enhance employee engagement on your team:

1. Audit your meetings to increase engagement.

Microsoft’s 2023 Work Trend Index Annual Report revealed that employee time spent in meetings and calls is three times higher than before February 2020, when pandemic restrictions began. Today, more of the workday is spent communicating (57%) than it is actually creating (43%). With so much time spent in meetings, it’s easy to disengage. Consider auditing a week’s worth of your team meetings to gauge staff members’ levels of engagement. An anonymous survey or pulse check can help see where and when you might benefit from some engagement boosters, including some of Careerstone’s favorites:

• Rotate the lead – per agenda item or meeting
• Include discussion questions or potential action items in the agenda – that you send ahead of time!
• Divide and conquer – use small groups or partners for in-room meetings, breakout rooms for virtual
• Make time for connections

2. Implement closing questions at your regular team meetings.

Relational engagement is as important as work engagement. Invest in your team’s relationships with you and with one another. A simple way to increase engagement at meetings and focus attention on building relationships is through closing questions. Add five minutes at the end of your standing team meeting and share the question ahead of time. A few examples are listed below. Closing questions are a great way to get everyone’s attention back at the end of the meeting, allow for a quick moment of connection, and can even help you measure engagement. Who seems to be getting an energy boost by participating? Who is opting out and leaving early? Follow up in your 1:1 meetings about how closing questions are helping/hindering engagement.

Careerstone’s Favorite Closing Questions:

• What’s your best work hack?
• What is something you have always wanted to try?
• What was your favorite summer job?
• What’s your preferred way for us to contact you during work hours?
• What’s your signature contribution to a potluck?
• What are you reading/listening to/watching right now?
• What’s the best class you’ve ever taken?

3. Engage in 1:1s that focus on internal motivations and career growth.

At your next 1:1, model sharing your motivations and what helps you stay engaged. Then, devote time to ask about what motivates them. What are some career opportunities that might support each employee’s growth? What helps them feel most motivated or energized? Get their perspective on which skills are not being used enough in their current role, parts of the team or organization with which they’d like more interaction, and align them with training and resources, opportunities to work cross-functionally or as a representative of your team. Giving people more decision-making authority in their assignments is an easy place to start. Be certain to focus on increasing decision-making power and autonomy, not simply adding more responsibilities or tasks.

4. Employ discovery conversations to encourage feedback and recognition.

Discovery conversations are an enhanced version of 1:1 meetings. Provide opportunities for your staff to define and align on core values. Teams often take for granted that everyone views collaboration and open communication in the same way. Ask each staff member to wave a magic wand to problem solve for the most frustrating part of the job. What’s needed to solve for this? Create space to ask and answer: what can I do more of/less of/differently to work better with you? Modeling a culture of feedback helps to increase a sense of belonging and value for everyone on your team.

Interested in exploring more on the topic of employee engagement and motivation? Contact us to learn about our training and consulting opportunities!

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