Managers play a critical role in engaging employees.

The key to success in any organization lies with its employees. They are the ones who hold the power to scale your products to unprecedented levels or even bring them down to unimaginable lows. Which is why it is important to make sure that a company’s workforce is engaged, which, in turn, boosts their motivation to work.

Keeping employees engaged in an organization might seem easy but it isn’t really. It is a dedicated skill that some companies have carefully developed overtime while others have failed at miserably.

To begin, what is employee engagement really?

Employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction or employee experience. It is also not the sum total of the Friday fun events and team lunches that are commonly organized; it is far more intricate than that.

Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace. And what goes into creating engaged workforces is a composite of great communication, growth and development opportunities, leadership support, deep connections, meaningful work, compensation, flexibility, work-life balance, and of course, supportive managers.

So, how can managers improve employee engagement?

The math is simple: managers work closely with employees. And if there is anyone in the organization who is fully keyed into the needs and motivations of individual employees that is the manager. While there are a number of ways through which a manager can enhance employee engagement in the team, here are a few for starters:

  • There’s nothing like too much recognition!

According to authors, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton of Leading with Gratitude, there is an evident perception gap in employee recognition where 67% of the managers believe that they are giving above average praise and recognition to their employees and only 23% of their employees agree to it. And when combined with the study that rates individual recognition from managers as the top motivator for employees to stay in an organization, the need to do recognition right gets amplified.

A manager practices everyday acts of genuine appreciation.

Now, recognition from managers does not have to necessarily come in the form of monetary incentives. From simple ‘thank you’ to bringing specificity in why an employee is being recognized and encouraging peer-to-peer recognition within the team can add great value to how employees perceive recognition and thereby feel about their work and workplace.

  • Everyone deserves a break!

All work and no play can make anyone a dull boy/girl. Monday to Friday can be a rollercoaster ride as everyone tries to answer thousands of emails and get hundreds of reports done. It’s very exhausting, even for the best of us! What employees need at the end of a Friday afternoon is some time to relax and maybe usher in their weekend.

Many organizations do it by getting Friday treats to the office, maybe like donuts for employees or bi-weekly and monthly group gatherings. Think out-of-the-box and plan Friday activities that:

- Help employees connect with one  another

-  Nurture conversations & engagement beyond work

-  And boost team bonding

  • Flexibility is in, micromanagement is out

Employees, especially millennials, love flexibility – be it with the hours of work, log-in and logout time, work decisions or work-life balance. And an instant dictator of disengagement is micromanagement. When employees and team members are allowed to exercise flexibility, it makes them feel trusted which, in turn, boosts engagement.

It’s rather simple to understand, letting employees be flexible will also ensure that when the need arises, they will be flexible enough to stretch for their team or organization. Could say, it’s a basic human courtesy and all employees love it!

  • Get insights, drive engagement

Proactively seek employee feedback. Giving people the opportunity to share their views makes them feel that their opinions are valued. But that’s not where it ends. Any feedback process is only as effective as the subsequent action. Do you acknowledge employee feedback? Share the plan of action basis the feedback? And do you actually act on what employees have to say? All of this is important to validate an employee’s opinion.

A manager encourages feedback from employees.

There are various ways in which employee feedback sessions can be structured for maximum effectiveness.

Decide the frequency – monthly, weekly, fortnightly.

Make clear the objective of the session.

And chart out the participants.

  • Level-up the team

The task of a manager isn’t just to get work done. It is also to nurture the team – enable each member to attain their professional helm through growth and development. When leaders keep pushing their team members in a balanced manner, it not only helps their teammates to grow but also encourages them to respect their leaders and try to become better versions of themselves. This behavior sows seeds of trust, thus, making it a symbiotic relationship built on high levels of engagement.

  • Find the right fit

One of the most important duties of a manager is to look for each member’s strengths and weaknesses so that the right tasks and projects can be assigned to them. If the right people are not in the right roles then everyone in the company is going to suffer, including that very person himself or herself. That is why many companies allow their employees to change their departments as per their strengths and interests. And the right person to drive this effort is the manager. When employees know they are in the right roles, they feel highly productive and stay engaged during their tenure with the company.

All said, it is important to note that improving employee engagement in a company doesn’t take a linear approach. It is a by-product of consistent efforts across various parameters like work-life balance, leadership, connection, professional development and more. It takes extensive time and dedication on the management and leadership’s part. But that should never dissuade one from pursuing employee engagement as a business priority.

Engaged employees stick with organizations longer, are more productive, and take fewer leaves, all of which translates into monetary savings for the company. And one of the greatest drivers of engagement at any organization is the manager.

So, how can you enable managers to engage with employees better?

Amidst the myriad responsibilities that a manager juggles, it can be especially helpful for managers to be able to know exactly what the team needs and have insights into the best actions to make it happen. CultureMonkey’s manager dashboard lets managers monitor their team’s engagement levels closely.

A team-wise slicing of data from any organization-wide survey conducted on the CultureMonkey platform enables managers to listen in on the employees’ concerns anonymously and have access to auto-suggested actions to improve areas of engagement that the team isn’t faring well on. Ultimately, the more engaged each team gets, the more engaged will be the entire workforce.

Find out more about CultureMonkey’s manager log-in feature here.