Employee engagement may seem like a buzz word, but it’s not going anywhere and the impact it has on the success of your organization is real. It isn’t just about having happy employees (although that’s also nice) – it’s about the positive chain reactions that occur when your employees are engaged.

Your leaders (managers, supervisors, etc.) may be the single most important factor in making sure your employees are engaged. In fact, research from Gallup suggests that managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores.

Because managers play a vital role in the engagement of your employees, you must provide them with tools and resources needed to develop their leadership skills. According to Gallup research, there are three major reasons that employees fail to reach their full potential:

  1. unclear and misaligned expectations
  2. ineffective and infrequent feedback
  3. unfair evaluation practices and misplaced accountability

There are some simple things your leaders can do to overcome these challenges.

Set Clear Expectations: This starts at the very beginning of employment and must continue throughout the entire relationship. One way to set appropriate expectations from the start is by developing a consistent onboarding program. According to the research, only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organizations do a great job of onboarding new employees. Check out our Onboarding Toolkit and on-demand Onboarding Webinar for great onboarding ideas.

Provide Frequent, Meaningful Feedback: Employees who have had conversations with their manager about their goals and successes in the last six months are 2.8 times more likely than other employees to be engaged. Only 23% of employees strongly agree their manager provides meaningful feedback to them, but those who do are 3.5 times more likely than other employees to be engaged. Feedback needs to be a scheduled part of your managers’ day-to-day responsibilities, in addition to occurring spontaneously.

Feedback should also be balanced between formal and informal conversations. We like to say, “When you see something, say something.” Don’t wait for a formal, scheduled meeting to tell an employee if they are doing something well or they need to make adjustments. Check out our webinar on Performance Communication for more information.

Really Get to Know Employees: Feedback should not be the only form of communication with employees. Leaders need to understand that employees want to talk about their work and their life. They want to feel like leadership in the organization actually cares about them as a person; that they understand what is important to them. Every employee is different, so this can take many forms. Check out our Recognition Toolkit for ideas on how to get to know and recognize your team members.

Do What You Say You Will Do: Establishing trust with your employees is vital to engagement. One area that often leads to mistrust is a feeling of unfairness in the workplace. Only 18% of employees strongly agree that employees who perform better grow faster at their organization. This means that the majority of employees do not believe the quality of their work has any bearing on how they are measured, developed or promoted. Ask your managers to take a look at their current performance management system. Are there areas where employees may be treated unfairly?

Creating a culture of trust also means holding your employees accountable for being trustworthy. Teamwork is only successful when everyone understands who is accountable for what tasks, and when everyone trusts that those jobs will get done.

Don’t forget to invest in your managers’ engagement, as well. If you lead a team of managers, make sure you are providing the same things to them. Reach out to our team for ideas on developing your leaders to be champions of engagement in your company.