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Most executives spend their time solving external problems that their company faces. And there are many of them, from the rapid development of technology to financial uncertainty, geopolitical instability and competition. But what if the biggest threat to your company’s future is already inside the building?
Companies need an engaged workforce to remain competitive in a complex and ever-changing environment. But the countless hours that I spent coaching and consulting with executives, as well as my own experience as the founder and CEO of a fast-growing company, have shown that companies across industries deal with low morale and therefore low employee engagement.
The latest survey shows that just over 30% of employees engaged. This low engagement contributes to high turnover. Last year, voluntary smoking cessation amounted to 25% higher than it was before the pandemic, and 40% of workers are considering leaving their jobs this year. And employee turnover is contagious—one study found that 92% said they were less likely to stay in their job. after the dismissal of a close colleague. Such a cascade can quickly devastate your company.
How can you, as a leader, improve morale, inspire your employees, and increase engagement in your organization? Here are four tips.
RELATED: 6 Entrepreneurs Share Secrets to Boosting Office Morale
1. Measure twice
First, you can’t fix something you don’t know is broken. Because of the way we work now, it’s harder than ever to know when something is happening. It was easier to understand when engagement and morale were low when we were all in the office. It hung over the office like fog. But when you only see your colleagues and employees on a computer screen, it can be hard to tell when something is wrong. This is why every company should regularly measure morale and engagement.
At my company, we combine a regular rapid survey with a more reliable measure that we use less frequently. Submitting these surveys and synthesizing the data they return requires an investment of time and effort, two resources that are always in short supply. But investing has huge benefits, allowing us to understand the overall health of the organization, see what we’re doing well, and figure out what we can do better.
2. Co-create your value
In an environment of stress and uncertainty, employees benefit from a clear understanding of the organization’s vision and values. They also benefit from a vision and values that align with their own − research show that employees whose personal values align with those of their organization are more likely to be hired and less likely to leave—this is why creating vision and values together is so beneficial.
Imagine starting with a clean slate and then taking a thoughtful and purposeful look at the future you want to create. By listening to the needs of your people and paying close attention to context, you can identify a set of values that inspire your team. You may fail, but the messiness of deliberate experimentation is tempered by clear and open dialogue, your willingness to learn, and your ability to adapt.
Related: Leadership with transparency in times of uncertainty
3. Connect with people
As leaders, we ask our employees to spend most of their waking hours at work. In turn, we need to make sure we show them that their time at work matters. A Gartner study showed that 82% of employees say it is important for their organization to see them as individuals and not just employees. However, only 45% of employees believe that their organization really sees them that way. Probably because it’s just 27% organizations “guided leaders to talk with their teams about why their work matters.”
Fighting this gap starts with you and your executive team. There is something powerful about a leader testing his team. The most successful leaders I have coached have taken the time to connect with each of their teams on a human level, express gratitude for their work, ask them about the challenges they face at work and at home, and ask them how they can help. . .
4. Double down on the community
Loneliness has long been a problem in the workplace. But with the onset of the pandemic, the problem has become even more acute. And this is a big problem. Loneliness reduces our ability to complete tasks, limits creativity and reduces the ability to reason and make decisions. Socially isolated team members are less likely to cooperate with others. study shows that their peers are likely to perceive them as unapproachable and not attached to the organization.
It’s hard for your team to feel like they’re together when most of them have never been in the same room. More than thirty% The U.S. workforce has switched jobs as the pandemic has necessitated a massive transition to remote and hybrid work. Some of our corporate clients have entire teams of people who have never met each other in person.
While I understand the costs of bringing people together, the value of face-to-face communication cannot be overemphasized. Research show that personal interactions cause the release of oxytocin and build trust and psychological security between people. Google a two-year study of their teams showed that psychological safety was the single most important factor influencing performance. People on teams with higher psychological security were more engaged and less likely to leave the company.
On the subject: Why everything you know about employee engagement is wrong
More than a feeling
Increasing engagement in your company will not be easy – 36% is the highest proportion of the US workforce that has been engaged in the past 20 years. However, your efforts will be rewarded. Engaged employees are not only less prone to turnover, but also generate higher sales, more satisfied customers, higher productivity, and higher profits than their less engaged counterparts.