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5 Steps to Getting (and Keeping) Employees Engaged at Work

5 Steps to Getting (and Keeping) Employees Engaged at Work
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Q: How to improve employee engagement at work place? How to retain them?
--Kavita Pattipati
India

A: I get asked a lot about employee engagement and retention, and I always answer with two questions: Why do you currently have low employee engagement?  Why are people leaving your organization?

It really helps to know the problem before trying to come up with a solution.  If you increase everyone’s salary, because you believe higher compensation will keep them, but they are still leaving or aren’t engaged, all you have done is create new problems. First, people think you’ll always pay more money. And secondly, the issue is the same as before, but now expenses are higher.  

The following are crucial steps to simultaneously create a more engaged workforce while reducing turnover. 

Related: The Importance of Culture When Starting Up

1. Start at the top.  

Are you engaged?  You may want to service your customers but does your team think you’re engaged? People will practice what they see. Are you having fun?  Can they see it?  Fun isn't you on the golf course without them. Fun is you laughing, joking and celebrating WITH your team.  If you want them working after 5 pm, then you need to plan a work dinner at 6:30 pm that you are attending and paying for. Also, you need to go to happy hours with them and get to know your teams socially.  

In a perfect world, we all hire self-motivated people who don't need to be wined and dined. Whose perfect world is that?!  Not mine. I like the people I work with at my company and enjoy spending time with them. I love getting to know them and hearing their stories.  When you engage with them personally, they become engaged professionally.  

2.  Rip off the Band-Aid. 

Terminate your poor attitudes as soon as possible.  No matter how talented these employees are, bad attitudes are destructive.  A good team can become great by addition through subtraction.   By spending more time with people and socializing with them, you will learn who the real moaners are. Once you discover the complainers, you need to do the heavy lifting and cut them.

Related: The 5 Must-Ask Interview Questions to Determine if Someone's a Fit

3. Set short-term goals.  

Culture is created from the people and the accomplishments of those people.  Set monthly or quarterly goals that employees can hit quickly. Goals need to be discussed and celebrated, so dedicate an internal champion to generate hype around them.   People will push harder if they know everyone is pushing.  

4.  Don't manage out of fear.  

Know what type of company you want to have and lead and manage accordingly.  If you manage out of fear of people quitting, they will never be engaged, because you aren't a true leader.  

Work is like exercise.  People stop doing it when they don't see great results.  The reason usually is, because they aren't pushing themselves hard enough. Push your team, because when they accomplish great things, it’s all worth it.  If the team isn’t accomplishing anything, you either have the wrong people or the wrong plan. 

5. Be transparent. 

To keep employees engaged, they have to feel like they are more than just a number and that’s done by letting them know what’s going on. People are engaged with leaders who share, sacrifice and communicate -- and hold themselves accountable when they didn’t make the right decision. Fix the problem and take ownership.

Related: The 8 Essential Steps to Building a Winning Company Culture