Three non-monetary tricks for building employee engagement
February 08, 2012
It's no secret that the job market is in rough shape - not just in the U.S., but across North America. While there has been a string of recent improvements, the pace of recovery points to above-average unemployment through 2012.
Accordingly, employers have been forced to deal with a rising tide of employee dissatisfaction, a lack of engagement and even departures. The trend underscores the importance of employee-retention strategies, but it offers little help in terms of how such a measure can be implemented. For example, understanding how to retain top talent requires an understanding of what motivates workers. Is it career prospects? Compensation? A healthy work-life balance?
Most likely, it is a combination of all these factors and more. But with hard economic times, it's incumbent upon employers to motivate their workers through non-monetary strategies. Here are some tips for driving employee engagement, cash-free:
1.) Take advantage of "emotional contagion"
Happiness, frustration, anger and even boredom have a way of spreading employee by means of simple sub-conscious mimicry. For example, if one employee grows worried that the business is in trouble, or if he or she shows anxiety about the economy, the mood can easily and quickly spread to others.
"Because employees' moods can be as powerful an influence on performance as their words and deeds, the possibility for negative emotional contagion needs to be taken seriously, and managers need to be particularly vigilant in making sure this negative emotional contagion doesn't spread," Wharton management professor Sigal Barsade told the Fiscal Times.
2.) Encourage autonomy and individual initiative
Dumping new work on employees without a raise or promotion in return will only breed resentment. But there's a difference between adding work and adding new responsibility. Responsibility usually entails new freedoms. If you allow your workers to take on new projects or to broaden their job descriptions according to their preferences, you may help build up a greater sense of place and significance within the organization.
It may be counter-intuitive to your management style, but trying backing off from time to time, allowing your employees to handle tasks themselves and to forge their job into something more meaningful to them.
3.) Incentivize innovation and management practices
Oftentimes, employee dissatisfaction has more to do with office culture than it does career alignment or compensation. Create competitions or solicit ideas as to how operations could be improved. Show your workers that you also have responsibilities to the company, and they include creating an ideal work environment for the staff.