Sometimes it’s the simple things…

When building a team of engaged and motivated employees this phrase stands true.

You hear and read about the importance of engagement and all its benefits to the organisation’s bottom line, but you simply don’t know where to start.

Here are our favourite ideas for engaging and motiving employees – which are simple to implement and effective and, more importantly, that your team will appreciate:

1. Make work fun
Getting the balance right is important – work shouldn’t be entirely monotonous and routine. It’s disheartening to come to work at a place where you’re just working. To encourage fun at work, have some fun yourself. If people see you having some fun, they know that they’re allowed to too.

More formally, you can organise team-building activities or an event. Find ways to get the team to get together outside of work. This will give people something to look forward to, such as a BBQ or a breakfast/ lunch where you take a break as a team. Don’t forget this can be tough for people with outside commitments (kids, school, etc.), so organise different activities at different times.

2. Encourage growth
Personal growth is one of the most important aspects of employee engagement.

Encourage employees to take online courses to help them grow and get better. Set aside a budget for training (top tip, most online courses are free) and keep offering to invest in your team. Coaching is so worthwhile, even though it is time intensive. You can coach in groups, set time aside once a month for a “training session” on a subject you know that an employee wants to master, or hold frequent lunch-and-learns. This will lead to engagement by building up employees’ confidence.

Encourage development. Some of the biggest problems at work stem from a lack of communication about development. Take the lead and encourage employees to grow and keep learning. It will make them feel like you genuinely care about their career.

3. Implement continuous feedback
Employees are eager for feedback that lets them know where they stand and how they’re doing. You can’t wait for an annual review or a monthly one-on-one.

Ensure that the feedback is constructive. The biggest issue with feedback is that it has such a negative connotation to it. Employees have to understand that feedback is OK. Make employees see that feedback is meant to help them grow and get better.

As a leader, you should always be looking to improve and get better. Your main priority is to serve your employees, so look for ways to do that better. Ask employees how you can help them do their jobs better and what you should start—or stop—doing

Act on feedback. One of the biggest problems with collecting feedback is that often managers don’t do anything with the feedback they receive. Your employees have ideas that will help your whole organisation grow. You might as well listen to them.

4. Give staff a voice
Employees want to feel that they’re permitted to express what’s on their minds.

You have many ways to do this, but here are a few tips: Have monthly one-on-one meetings. These are a good tool for really getting to know your employees and letting them express their opinions and concerns. Remember to give frequent recognition/ praise to your employees when you see they’ve done something good. The key here is simply paying attention to what your employees are working on.

5. Promote wellness
This can also help improve productivity. Ideas include:

  • Give gym passes. This is a surprisingly easy and cost-effective perk to offer. When employees are healthy, they take less sick days and are more energised and productive at work.
  • Offer healthy food. This is another simple and effective perk to show employees that you care about their well-being (and something we enjoy here along with the odd chocolate biscuit!)
  • Encourage mindfulness, its benefits are unbelievable. If you encourage mindfulness at work, your employees will be happier, healthier, less stressed and more productive.

6. Live core values
Values and a mission are important to employee engagement.

Do you hire for culture fit? Don’t just hire someone because you need to desperately fill a role, and don’t hire someone solely based on his or her skills. Skills can be learned. Hire people who share your values.

You should be preaching your core values over and over again. Employees have to be reminded why what they’re doing is important. Make posters, T-shirts or whatever you want, but make sure that the message is present in everything you do.

Make the most of your induction process. Employee onboarding is one of the keys to engagement. If done well, you’ll have a productive, engaged and powerful employee. If you don’t, you’ll have a confused, insecure one. Remember that onboarding takes time. Dedicate at least three months to it.

7. Respect employees
At the core of employee engagement is respect. All employees want to feel that they matter and that they’ll be treated like adults. Things you can easily implement here include:

  • Be flexible. Show a little flexibility when it comes to things like working from home or showing up late. Employees’ intentions are generally good. They shouldn’t feel unnecessary stress about minor issues.
  • Encourage work/life balance. Employees need a life outside of work. Be a good role model for them and practice work/life balance yourself. Let employees know it’s OK for them to take time off if they need it.
  • Give employees autonomy. When you give employees the autonomy they want, you’re showing them the respect they deserve. Trust them to do their work without micro-managing them.

8. Encourage experimentation
Employees should know that it’s OK to make mistakes and try new things. They should feel comfortable admitting their mistakes, and everyone should be open and honest about failures.

As a leader, emphasise as often as possible that mistakes are forgivable and failure is never irreparable. You want to encourage your employees to be creative and let them run with their ideas. The more you stifle creativity, the less engaged they’ll be.

The best way to do this is to ensure that you set clear goals, celebrate failure (show its ok to make mistakes) and be transparent (the more context and information people have the easier it will be to suggest ideas).

9. Build relationships
Team-building activities are great, but you should also optimise how employees collaborate with each other, this can be linked to experimentation.

Does everyone have a voice in the process? Are the workflows as smooth as they could be? These are the types of questions you should ask yourself and the team on a regular basis.

Some tips:

  • Involve everyone. This is more about being mindful than anything else. Watch for signs that employees might be feeling left out. Try to include everyone as much as possible, and explain things so that all employees are on the same page.
  • Encourage collaboration. A great way to help build relationships at work and empower employees is to assign them to work on projects together.
  • Tell people not to be shy. Most people at work are naturally shy. They don’t want to overstep and they’re not sure if they have the authority to speak up. You can help remove that fear by encouraging them to speak up without the fear of retribution.