Essential Elements of Team Engagement

The concept of team engagement has certainly become a hot topic among business owners and operators over the past few years. The fields of sociology, psychology and economics have converged to reveal incredible insights into what makes employees productive, fulfilled and more likely to remain with a given job or company. We can now say conclusively that money is rarely the primary driver when people decide to leave a team. As the economy continues to gain momentum in 2018, this becomes even more important to consider. If your best employees can make comparable money with a competitor, what is it that you can do to foster loyalty?

  1. More Measurement
    An annual team survey is an important tool that we featured in last month’s Elevate newsletter, but it is far from sufficient by itself. A comprehensive, year-end survey must be augmented with a more frequent gathering of data that measures team satisfaction, performance and concerns. It’s important to know how your team feels about their jobs and company on a Tuesday in February, a Friday in June and a Monday in October. This gives you a much better opportunity to mitigate small issues before they become larger problems. The good news is new technologies are making this data much easier to obtain and analyze. Tools like Slack and SurveyMonkey allow you to conduct polls quickly and anonymously. You could ask just one question at the end of every day, or three questions every Monday morning and every Friday afternoon. While it is important to act on the information you gather, just by putting in place such a program, you begin to demonstrate how important you believe your team is to the success of the business.
  2. More than Job Satisfaction
    Of course, happy employees are more fun to be around and probably more productive. But what we’re really after is employees who feel valued, believe the work they do is important and are motivated to help the company be successful. Invite your team to help you define a company vision. What is your company about, besides just making money? How does each and every person on the team play a role in that vision? Once that vision is clearly defined, you have to continually remind your people how the work they do contributes to these larger goals. If your company is small, this responsibility is yours, as the business owner. As your company grows, you need to include this in the training of your managers and team leaders. Establishing a rational, emotional connection with the work we do is incredibly important. It improves not just performance, but retention and morale.
  3. Do the Easy Things Now
    Building a highly engaged team can certainly seem like a daunting and complicated task. And that’s fair; some of the work is complex and difficult. But much of it is pretty intuitive and easy to remedy. Ensure your team has all the tools they need to perform the job. Fully functioning, up to date technology and software, a workspace that is clean and inviting, convenient parking and transportation accommodations, and learning and development resources. Shortcomings in these areas only breed resentment. Invest in the tools your people use every day. Invest in the physical space they spend 40 hours a week in.

Remember, that what motivates you to grow your business, is most likely very different from what motivates people to work in your business. So listen mindfully to your team and design a vision, processes and goals that will incentivise them and reward them. Your rewards will flow naturally from theirs.

How millennials are redefining the workplace and how to engage them

Millennials, one of the largest generations in US history, certainly get a lot of attention. The word itself has come to symbolise not only a generation of people but the entire modern condition brought on by technology, globalism, interconnectedness, diminishing attention spans and a heightened sense of self-importance. Born between the early 1980’s and the early 2000’s, this group of 70 million Americans is taking over the workforce, already representing a majority of employees in many sectors. Before we begin to look at how best to manage this shift in your business, it is important to reflect on a couple certain truths. First, generational disruption is inevitable. Second, while discussing generalities is useful, remember that each person on your team, regardless of age, is an individual and should be viewed and treated as such.

Research and surveys conducted over the last few years have revealed that younger workers want to feel good about what they do. This is an important factor on both a micro and macro level. On the micro level, millennials want a firsthand view of the impact of the work they do. Is there a clear connection between their daily tasks and the greater vision of the organization? Can they have real influence over that vision and the end product your organization produces? If you can define the significance of the role each member of your team plays, they will be more internally motivated and committed. On a macro level, millennials want the companies they work for to be change agents in the world. This generation is very engaged in social issues. They have a strong belief that what they do 40 hours a week should contribute, in some way, to making the world a better place. Highlighting philanthropic efforts your organization participates in is crucial. Another way to demonstrate your sense of social responsibility is to organize volunteer activities. Pick a cause, allot some time during the workday, encourage your team to get involved and spend time volunteering together. These events can also serve as team building opportunities, which make them even more important to consider.

Another theme that is emerging as millennials take over the work world is flexibility. They want more control over when they work, where they work, how they work and what they work on. Coming of age in the digital world, they have a hard time accepting the arbitrariness of the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. Younger workers also understand more about flow states, inducing peak performance and creating conditions that foster creativity. They believe they can be just as effective working from home a couple hours in the early morning, taking a long lunch, and then coming into the office or meeting clients out for coffee. Making these accommodations, when appropriate, will go a long way in getting buy-in from your millennial employees. It’s also likely to result in better work and more effort from your team. Similarly, younger workers are looking for roles that are more fluid and flexible. It’s important for them to continue to learn and develop new skills. The way they do that is to stretch their responsibilities and tackle new opportunities as they are presented. Rewarding well-done work with money is easy. But, offering new responsibilities and being open to new approaches really communicates to your team that you value them and that you want for them, what they want for themselves.

Finally, members of the millennial generation consistently mention authenticity as a trait they value. Possibly a reaction to their heavy exposure to marketing, Millennials really respond to genuine, direct communication. As a group, they are quick to identify when they are being told something less than the truth. They are also quick to judge accordingly. So, be upfront and give feedback that is clear and honest. Your team will be confident they know where they stand which will alleviate anxiety and increase their sense of loyalty.

Regardless of the kind of business you’re in, Millennials will soon dominate your workforce. Don’t let this intimidate you though, it’s something to be extremely excited about. Millennials are incredibly creative, adaptive and competent. In order to best harness that talent, you have to create a culture and environment that empowers younger workers. That means being committed to authenticity and flexibility while taking opportunities to make the world a better place.