People might have a hard time remembering what you said or what you did, but everyone remembers how you made them feel – this fact is more topical in today’s landscape than ever before.
Proper communication is the key to raise engagement among your employees – how you communicate affects the emotions of others and how they feel about your organization, brand, and the people they work with. Clear and direct communication is an effective way to instruct your colleagues about what you expect from them, why you have these expectations and how you want them to reach their goals. It also shows appreciation, spreads joy and respect at the workplace, while having a positive effect on engagement.
Poor communication will instead nudge your ambitious and excited colleagues to job sites and other employers who are better at communicating.
The ability to communicate in a constructive and clear manner is extremely important. Here are nine tips on how to use communication to raise engagement at your workplace.
1. Knowing what is expected of you
One of the most fundamental aspects when trying to raise engagement is to properly communicate what is expected of each individual employee. Even if you do everything else right, not having set clear expectations could ruin the level of employee engagement at your organization. According to a survey by Gallup, only about half of respondents agree that they have clear expectations at their workplace.
It is highly recommended to get this right from the very beginning. Take your time and sit down with each of your employees and have an honest conversation about what you’re expecting from them in the next month, quarter, and year. Another important part of this is to regularly follow up on these expectations since situations can always change in a fluid working environment.
2. Have a distinct “Why”
This part is usually easier to get right since most organizations are very aware of why they’re doing what they’re doing. A pharmaceutical company that develops medicine to save lives or an organization whose main goal is to clean up the ocean from plastic waste have employees that objectively agree on the why of their work. But, if your company isn’t trying to save the planet, but instead provides a product or service with the main goal being to have higher profits every quarter, communicating the why can be a little more complicated.
Younger adults in particular Generation X, Y och Z (born 1985-2012) state that they need to know Why they’re doing their job to feel motivated, want to stay, and thrive at a particular job. This is why it’s so important for every organization to be clear on why they exist, other than to make money. Here are a few examples from highly successful companies where the employees have a proper why that they can get behind:
McDonald’s: Our customers favourite place and way to eat.
IKEA: To create a better everyday life for the many people.
Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
Workday: To put people at the center of enterprise software
3. Stay-interviews – get proactive instead of being reactive
Most organizations arrange exit interviews when a colleague is leaving the company. The problem with doing it this way is that it’s usually too late to make changes once the employee is on their way out the door. People usually don’t just quit out of the blue, they almost always have a good reason and if you know what the reason is ahead of time, you can do something about it to keep your employees.
During a stay-interview, the manager or HR-representative should find out what the employee likes about working at the organization, why they choose to stay, and what would make them quit or look elsewhere. This will give you a general idea about what you are doing right as an employer while also finding out what to work on proactively to keep your employees from leaving.
4. Always listen to feedback
Your employees are your biggest asset and ignoring feedback from your biggest asset is like ignoring advice from your best, most useful sources. For some of your employees, letting you know what they think comes easy. Others need to mentally prepare for a long time before they open their mouth, meaning that they have been thinking about it for some time, maybe talked it through with a partner or colleague, and then gathered the courage to share what they think with you or the organization. Not every single bit of feedback is going to be useful, but it is always important to respect the opinions of your employees and make them feel heard. Let them finish what they’re saying and thank them for their feedback. Respectfully reply to their feedback, when appropriate, and let them know how their feedback will be used to improve things.
5. Act on internal feedback and make it clear where it came from
If you get great results from acting on feedback from one of your employees, you should always make sure that everyone knows whose idea you were acting upon. Not being clear about this could end up making your employee think that you’re trying to get credit for results that essentially came from their feedback. Giving props when props are due is not only respectful to the employee in question, it will also encourage others to share their own ideas that will hopefully have an even more positive effect on the organization.
Source: Next Consulting
6. Make your goals clear
Are your employees aware of the general goals of their organization? Do they know what you’re trying to achieve in the upcoming quarter or year? It is a much easier task to raise employee engagement when everyone is aware of the roadmap and what the organization is expecting to achieve in the near future. Employees that are aware of their organization’s vision and goals are 28% more engaged than the employees that don’t understand the goals of their employer.
But having a few meetings every year where the leaders of the company list numbers and results aren’t the way to do it. The most successful organizations share regular updates with their employees every week or every month, while simultaneously informing their employees about why each goal is so important to reach and how we will reach them together.
7. Show genuine consideration
This one is a huge deal and is mostly about being a considerate person and caring about your colleagues – the people behind the work. No one goes through life without facing some sort of hardships. If a loved one falls ill, passes away or if a long-term relationship comes to an end, having someone that listens and cares about you, while also alleviating your workload can have a huge effect on people. It’s sometimes hard to juggle work and personal life, especially when going through hard times, and knowing that your employer will try their best to help you out can mean the world.
Source: Next Consulting
8. Be interested
We tend to naturally talk a lot with our colleagues, about everything from personal interests to weekend plans. If a colleague, for instance, tells you that they’re going to a boat show this weekend, it is always appreciated to ask follow-up questions and maybe even ask how the show was the following week. This might be obvious to most, but it is an important way of showing your employees that you listen to them and take an interest in their lives.
Having a lot of employees can make it hard to retain everything you hear from your employees. A tip to make things easier is to always make notes when an employee tells you something about their personal life and then use your notes to ask follow-ups during meetings. Doing this regularly will make your employee feel seen and heard. On the other hand, if they feel like you don’t care about what they have to say, this might lead to them not being as engaged at work and maybe even looking to move on.
Source: Dale Carnegie
9. Conduct employee surveys
When you’ve gotten better at using communication as a tool, it’s important to measure the effects of your labor. A great way to see the changes is to conduct employee surveys. An example to include in a survey like this could be:
I am regularly informed about the goals of my organization
You can use a scale from 1-6 to let your employee answer the statement.
1: Do not agree at all / 6: Agree completely
The best way to measure the effects of any changes is to have your employees take a survey before you implement any changes and then have regular surveys to always have your finger on the pulse. If you want an easy way to see if the communication at your organization is done effectively, try creating an employee survey through a free trial.
Effectively communicating is important to have high employee engagement. With great feedback, listening and communicating skills, you can be a better colleague or a better leader. Use our nine tips to get better at communicating and keeping your employees happy, making them feel heard and getting to know what makes them stay at or what would make them leave the company.