In today’s economy, it is not only difficult for people to find a good job, but it’s also difficult for employers to hold on to their employees, which is pretty contradictory. You see, once you do manage to find the right person to fill a particular position inside your company, you are going have to win them over.
Simply giving them a larger paycheck than your competitors is not always going to cut it. Aside from how much they are being paid, employees also care about a positive work environment and supportive company culture in which managers are also mentors.
According to research done by Gallup, as much as 87% of employees are disengaged at work, which is a huge problem because improved engagement is sometimes the only thing that makes a difference between you and your competitors.
Obviously, when such a huge percent of workers is disengaged, the problem doesn’t just lie within their own attitude. Companies are to blame as well, whether it’s due to poor management, failure to provide feedback, lack of tools, or opportunities for employee growth.
In fact, growth opportunities are one of the main reasons why top employees switch between jobs. Giving them more money doesn’t solve this particular issue. In order to keep your employees engaged, you need to invest in their future and nurture them professionally.
However, even when companies do try to provide better growth opportunities for their workers, they often fail, because they figure that the same approach works for everyone. Every employee has different interests and motivations keeping them invested in the company.
With that in mind, let’s look at 4 ways in which you can support employee growth and boost their engagement in the workplace.
1. Create a Growth Plan for Every Employee
According to Wendy Thompson, who works as an HR specialist for AssignmentMasters, tailoring an individual plan for every employee is a must, because not everyone is interested in becoming a manager somewhere down the line. Some simply want to be able to take on more responsibilities, or to step outside of their comfort zones, while having safety in the shape of their manager/mentor.
Not every employee responds well to one-on-one coaching or workshops. Some prefer taking an online course, reading literature, or attending seminars. Once you have researched what your employee needs in order to grow, you can create an employee development plan. These plans usually last anywhere between three months to one year, which in most cases is enough in order to see some progress.
Revisit and adjust development plans on a frequent basis. For instance, if you have allowed 12 months for growth training, you could check in every 30, 60, 90 days and so on, in order to see how your employees are progressing. Also, be sure to tolerate a certain number of errors which are a part of every growth process. Huge blunders which jeopardize your business are not OK, but that’s why you also need to be there for your employees every step of the way.
2. Establish Trust between Managers and Employees
This is hardly a revelation, because every relationship, whether it’s personal or professional, works better if it’s based on trust. However, building trust is easier said than done, and requires not just time, but also plenty of effort.
Research shows that 25% of employees don’t trust their employer, and as much as 50% of them feel as if their employer is not being open or upfront with them. Trust works both ways and can only happen if there is enough transparency and honesty involved, which cannot be said for most companies. Lots of managers are leaders have trust issues, and that prevents them from forming a better relationship with their workers.
One way to start building trust with your employees is listening to their opinions and feedback. John Baker, CTO of DeployBot says,
Every employee wants to feel heard; whether they're contributing to the conversation with an innovative idea, or providing valuable and healthy feedback, employees need to feel as though their leadership takes them seriously. This trust begins with listening: make eye contact, give the employee adequate time to present their idea, and provide actionable next steps for how you'll take their feedback seriously.
Lack of trust creates a distance, which in turn makes employee disengagement more likely, and then you end up right back where you have started. As a manager, business leader, or an HR specialist, the best way to earn the trust of your employees would be to show them that you have been and that you still are in the same boat as them. You are still learning and trying to get better at your job, and that is certainly not a sign of weakness, but a great example your employees will be likely to follow.
3. Focus on the Needs of Your Employees Outside of Work Too
Obviously, you should focus on the needs of your employees while they are in the office because you have a business to run. However, when you sit down and talk to them, listen to what it is they really need in order to become more productive and successful. One of the reasons why people choose to work hard for companies is because they can provide them with a good balance between their personal and professional lives.
For instance, you can motivate your employees to become more productive and grow by allowing them to work from home on occasion, which would allow them to get things done while tending to family matters. It is also in your best interest to have employees who are in good health, so it might be a good idea to start offering a discount gym membership perk for example.
Another example would be to be to bring in financial planners which would help your employees when it comes to putting together a savings plan, providing advice on investments, as well as setting up a plan which would allow them to buy their own house five or 10 years from now.
These perks might set you back a little bit financially, it will pay off eventually. It doesn’t necessarily have to cost a fortune, but their effects would be priceless! What employee would be willing to leave such a company that cares so much about its employees, even if they get offered more money by someone else?
4. Make Learning a Continuous Process
In the past, both employees and managers would take some time to learn the ins and outs of the job, and after that, they would be all set until the day they retire. However, technology has sped up the world enormously, everything is changing at an alarming rate, which means that what your employees have learned today might not be of any use three years from now. This is especially true in some industries such as IT or digital marketing.
Managers need to find a way to merge learning and production seamlessly. The former is going to become a continuous process, rather than a one-time thing, and production is already a continuous process which cannot stop on the count of development and learning. Melanie Lundberg of Combined Insurance says,
Creating a “growth mindset” is about creating a continuous improvement culture which starts with every employee being encouraged to push themselves to reach that next-level performance. This is done through: every day employee-leader conversations... and leaders role modeling this growth mentality through their actions.
Companies need to train their managers to lead by example and be transparent about the processes. Make sure they know how to give out just the right amount of information, otherwise, they risk information overload and employee burnout. Employees need to do their part as well and take more control when it comes to their future, with the support of their mentors.
Growth opportunities are probably the most important long-term benefit you can offer to your employees, and if they are smart enough to know what’s best for them, they will feel the same way. While it’s a complex process which never ends, employee growth can be made easier with the tips we have shared inside this article. Once you implement them fully, you can rest assured that your workforce will be populated with productive and satisfied employees, which in turn will benefit your company in every way possible. Good luck!
Joe McLean is an excellent writer and a professional HR manager at one of the top writing companies. He’s a person who always loved to help the ones in need and doesn’t shy away from showing it.