It’s that time of year again. I’m not talking about how my gym suddenly triples its membership. I’m talking about the time of year that people who have been sticking around for their bonuses publish their resumes and put in their letters of resignation. They are “fully compensated” for last year, have used their vacation, and taken advantage of a few paid holidays. Job seekers know that January is the best time of the year to find a job because data shows it is the most popular month for people to leave a job. Bonuses are supposed to keep people around, but in many cases they have become a starting gun in the race to leave.
Only 30% of American workers, and 13% of global workers, are engaged in their jobs. Keeping your team engaged year round is the key to keeping your team on your team after bonuses have been distributed. If you are facing post-holiday personnel flight, it might be time to rethink your engagement strategy. Here are five tips to keep your team engaged throughout the year.
Communicate frequently and transparently with your team about what is going on throughout the organization. Give them a chance to have input and suggest ideas.
Every company goes through ups and downs. Resist the temptation to only share the good news. Your team can tell when something is wrong. It is better that they hear the details from you than speculate on the worst case scenario.
Provide context on the bigger picture of what they are working on. Understanding how their work fits into a larger project or strategy will make them feel like they are part of something bigger and builds loyalty to the project and the organization.
Listen to what they really need. Foosball tables don’t drive people. However, camaraderie might. Understanding your team’s motivators will help you to determine the best way to meet those needs rather than trying what worked for some other team. This is especially important for remote teams when you cannot directly observe motivators. A weekly touch point with all employees will help keep them engaged and help them to remember that they are a valuable part of the team.
Provide your team with the opportunity to learn more and take on additional responsibility. Most importantly, make sure they have the tools and training to do their best work.
Sweeping the floors is additional responsibility but it isn’t knowledge expanding work. Team members who feel the organization and leadership value them and are investing in their careers are happier, more innovative, productive, and creative. They will feel invigorated when they know they are growing–not just standing still. Give them every opportunity to learn and develop new professional skills.
Working with tools and training that are outdated, incomplete, or less than fully functional is frustrating and disheartening. Investing in internal initiatives may not take first priority because it is not client facing but it cannot be ignored.
Use failure and mistakes as a learning opportunity.
Not every idea will work out. This is an inevitable part of innovation. As a leader, you cannot accept low performance. You can make these failures learning experiences rather than an excuse to berate, or worse, micromanage. Mistakes happen, when they are done in good faith and admitted to, the team should understand that it is not unacceptable or fatal. Blaming and shaming shuts down the communication and stifles innovation. This will inevitably lead to feelings of stagnation and a lack of appreciation for the team’s talent.
Provide them with access to user feedback.
Providing the team with the feedback from end users of the product or service they create helps them to remember why they do what they do. This pride of ownership is a great motivator to keep teams engaged in their work and dedicated to the cause. Hearing what you think about their work is important but hearing what the users think is critical.
Keep your finger on the pulse of engagement.
Employee surveys are good ways to get a ballpark idea of how engaged your team is. However, they are infrequent, inaccurate, and often lagging indicators. Develop a dashboard of quantitative engagement metrics to assure you always have the most accurate data.