Stop. Take a breath. When is the last time you just took a moment? There is a lot of demand for our time and unfortunately it’s only getting worse. Your employees feel the pressure too.
Last year, The New York Times reported that the amount of time Americans spend at work has sharply increased over the last four decades and now averages 1,836 hours a year. For high earners, it’s even greater, averaging 2,015 hours per year.
For a lot of us, work never ends. We arrive early and try to avoid distractions only to find it difficult to get important tasks accomplished. We end up back at home checking emails well into the night. Increasingly, this experience poses a threat to engagement.
The battle for engagement has been a tough fight, but there is no need to raise the white flag yet. Implementing these three steps can help you charge ahead toward winning the war on engagement.
Step 1 – Listen
Deploying annual performance reviews is no longer enough. To offer actionable results, surveys and reviews should be conducted more frequently. You need to know what’s happening in the now. The key is administering surveys. Surveys open the lines of communication and often clarify relevant issues. Leaders can also host one-on-one sessions which give employees the stage. Having these regular conversations is helpful in gathering the information needed to implement effective change.
Step 2 – Share
The results are in, now what? The greatest mistake organizations make in the survey process is not disseminating the findings. Don’t leave it up to workers to imagine solutions, tell them what was found. Both good and bad results should be shared. Only sharing the good results seems fake and insincere. No one is perfect and there is always room for improvement. Let people know that you absorbed what they said. Ultimately, it will boost their trust in you and encourage them to share more.
Step 3 – Act
Think about the surveys you’ve taken. How confident were you that the results of the survey would be acted upon? If your employees took the time to fill out the survey it is because they had something valuable to say. This information, if used, can be your key to winning the war on engagement.
If for example, your employees are feeling overworked, it might be time to look at adding to your staff to create a little more “slack” – the degree to which companies put more, rather than fewer, employees on the floor. Slack, according to Zeynep Ton, a professor at M.I.T., is actually a competitive advantage. Ton explains that employees operating with some slack add value that those pushed to the limit cannot. This is because those with slack have more time, keep closer track, make fewer mistakes and feel highly engaged at work.
To move forward, start by creating an action plan complete with S.M.A.R.T goals. First, be specific and define what you are going to do. This includes determining the what, why and how. Then you will need tangible evidence to determine what was successful. What is your measureable metric? Note that your goals should be achievable. Reasonable goals pump up motivation; impossible goals deflate it. It is also important that your goals are results-driven. They should measure outcomes, not activities. Also, put an end date with your goals. Timely goals with a sense of urgency are more likely to be obtained.
By listening, sharing and acting upon survey results leaders can devise a more strategic plan of attack and ultimately improve overall engagement.