Valentine’s Day is upon us and what I’d like to know is are you and your employees feeling the love? Now this isn’t a blog about the do’s and don’ts of office romances – but rather a question about how warm and affectionate your employees feel about working for you.
Are they in the first flush of romance (full of enthusiasm and eager to please) or has their passion started to wane (you’re losing your appeal and they’re looking around for something new)? In work – as in life – it can sometimes be difficult to keep the flames of ‘love’ alive. But like any relationship, you have to work at keeping the partnership fresh if you want it to flourish.
So what can employers do to help keep employee engagement high, particularly at a time when some of the more traditional financial motivators are out of the question? Here’s our Valentine’s Day top five tips:
- Talk to each other: Make sure employees know what’s expected of them and where you want them to focus their efforts. Involve them in discussions about new and different ways to tackle the job in hand. Staff on the front-line often know the fine details about how things work and can make good suggestions about how to approach tasks more efficiently. And of course if it’s their idea, they will be enthusiastic about implementing the changes.
- Find out what makes them tick: Ask people what they like doing and think about what they are good at (it’s often the same thing). Give them the opportunity to do more in areas they enjoy and where they excel, rather than focusing on what they struggle with. Make the effort to find out if they have other skills and talents they are not using in their current role, but which could be employed in the business to good effect.
- Build trust: Keep the lines of communication open, especially during times of uncertainty. If employees feel they are being kept in the dark about possible changes they can easily become distracted and unsettled. Even if you can’t give a full picture or provide all the answers, make sure you offer regular updates so that people feel informed and involved.
- Show your appreciation: When was the last time you said thank you to your employees? Sometimes just showing simple appreciation for a job well done is all it takes. At times when budgets are tight, see if you can find new and creative ways of rewarding staff for their efforts. Find low-cost ways to help people develop their skills (mentoring, job swaps, secondments), give them time off to take part in a charity project of their choice or surprise them with an occasional gift voucher or box of chocolates.
- Keep it fun: Make work a fun place to be. It’s tough out there and everyone is working hard so it helps if you can find ways to lighten the atmosphere. Organise low cost social occasions to help teams gel and provide opportunities for staff to celebrate successes together. Make sure you mark birthdays or other important personal occasions and don’t let work get so intense that people feel they can’t have a laugh and (appropriate) joke together.
Let us have your ideas about how to keep staff engaged – and in the meantime, I wish you lots of cards through your letterbox this morning and a long and happy relationship with your employees.