You’re setting up for the last major project of the quarter and everything seems to be in order. KPIs and OKRs are in place and day-to-day responsibilities defined, yet a few weeks in you notice a huge slump in both team and individual performance.
All of a sudden the project is in jeopardy and there’s a chance that the deadline will pass before you’re ready to submit it to the client. This risks the ire of stakeholders and pressure from above - it’s urgent that you identify the source of the productivity problem.
If it’s not immediately obvious why performance isn’t up to your standards, the lack of meaningful progress could be a result of low levels of employee engagement.
Unfortunately, this isn’t your typical quick-fix productivity problem either; if low levels of employee engagement set in, it could spread and cause a domino effect, stagnating progress and business growth.
What Influences Employee Engagement Levels?
You can look at employee engagement as a sliding scale of how much satisfaction and purpose employees derive from their workplace and day-to-day responsibilities.
In most companies, there’s an 80/20 balance on the employee engagement scale. That means approximately 20% of your team members are responsible for 80% of the meaningful progress you make.
Too much pressure on the few hard-working employees can be the catalyst for a damning domino effect that could undermine your efforts at boosting productivity levels.
The McKinsey enterprise agility report identifies employee engagement, alongside customer satisfaction, operational performance, and financial performance as a core pillar of the modern Agile enterprise. As such, it’s a critical aspect of overall company success, so it’s worth focusing on as a lack of engagement can bring performance down.
The question of how to review an employee’s level of engagement boils down to the following three factors:
- A sense of autonomy - Employees need to feel as if they are trusted by their team leaders, and can get on with their work without constant supervision.
- Purpose in work - Without a real sense of purpose or an overarching company vision to follow, employees can find it hard to clock in every day and give 100% to the task at hand.
- Skill acquisition and application - Career progression is a crucial aspect of employee engagement. The potential for further financial gain is a well-known driving factor, but many employees also want to strive to grow their skillset to feel proficient in what they do for a living.
If you can offer these three factors to your employees, you can restore engagement levels and ensure that most of the meaningful work isn’t being accomplished by a small minority.
There are various ways you can introduce workplace autonomy, purpose, and skill acquisition to your workforce and address the productivity loss caused by low levels of engagement.
The 3 Best Ways to Improve Employee Engagement
Improving employee engagement can be challenging as it’s hard to know exactly why each individual in your team feels disconnected from their work.
Regardless, the following strategies can help you instill autonomy and purpose, or invite employees to upskill, which should have a knock-on effect on their engagement level.
1. Create a Clear Company Vision and Values
Brand identity is what helps companies stand out, and it’s the reason why some of the biggest brands in the world are successful. A customer sees the brand, identifies with it, and buys their products.
That’s why companies like outdoor clothing brand Patagonia have enjoyed so much success. Patagonia is clear in its mission - to encourage exploration while giving back to the environment as much as possible.
This is reflected in its most recent move as billionaire founder Yvon Chouinard transferred ownership of the company to nonprofits, ensuring a large percentage of future profits go to environmentally-friendly causes.
Imagine the impact a move like this would have on the company’s employees, who likely share the company’s vision for a more sustainable future in the clothing industry. With a clear vision and values, you can hire aligned people that will truly commit to their work and find great purpose in what they do.
You can also take a look at the example of Tom’s, the shoes brand that encourages its employees to walk a mile in others’ shoes by offering paid volunteer work through its ‘Giving for Goodness’ initiative. This empathetic approach to shoe manufacturing not only helps employees better understand why they do what they do, but also gives them an incentive to engage more with the brand and their work.
Tackling tasks that feed into the company’s overall objectives help each employee feel as if they’re part of something bigger than each individual.
PRO TIP: To check if company value alignment really does supercharge your employees’ productivity you can use user activities monitoring software to follow the impact of your changes.
2. Establish a Healthy Work Environment
Nobody wants to work for a company that doesn’t value its employees. Given the choice between a job with many perks or one with a flexible work environment, many would choose the latter as it allows them control over the most precious resource at their disposal: time.
Handing over the reins and letting employees have more say over their schedules can have a huge positive impact on their mental health and overall work-life balance.
Even something as simple as a weekly check-in to discuss any issues your employees may have can create an open, friendly work environment that makes them actively want to be there and engage with their work.
3. Offer Flexibility and Autonomy
To feel a sense of autonomy in their work, employees need to have a sense of ownership for their actions as it means everything they do holds great significance.
One way to increase employee accountability and ownership is to use project management software so each team member can manage their own workflow while also collaborating as part of a cross-functional team. This way, it’s easy to feel like part of something bigger than oneself, which can inspire greater individual performance.
PRO TIP: User activities monitoring software offers an effective solution for poor employee engagement, as it makes each employee responsible for their actions. It also provides you with an answer as to how to monitor team performance effectively.
What is employee productivity?
To boost employee productivity, you have to first define what that means to you. Typically, productivity is narrowed down to mean individual or team output, and it’s measured using a variety of metrics.
What is productivity monitoring and control?
When you track productivity with a digital tool, you can hone in on important time data which shows how much employees are applying themselves - which speaks to how engaged they are with their work.
PRO TIP: Does employee monitoring increase productivity? In short, yes, it can. When you make employees aware of how they spend their time, you can coach them on how to manage their time effectively. Bringing time data to their attention, they’re more likely to see how they can step up and add more value to the team, which taps into their desire to be autonomous at work.
4. Provide Upskilling Opportunities
There are times when a lack of engagement simply comes from boredom. Having bored employees on your hands doesn’t necessarily mean they hate their work and want to leave, it could simply be that their responsibilities aren’t cognitively demanding enough.
This raises an opportunity for you to upskill your workforce and offer professional development to your team. By partnering with a third-party platform you can provide training courses for your employees which incentivize skill acquisition, further boosting motivation with the potential for career progression.
PRO TIP: Employer software monitor can create accountability and boost productivity but it can also help in improving employee performance. You can use Insightful to pinpoint employees’ weaker areas and offer appropriate upskilling opportunities.