The time when employees went to work knowing that hustling for eight hours every day was simply an inevitable part of their life and believing that, regardless of how much they don’t enjoy it, job security is everything, might be drawing to a close. Today’s workforce, younger generations in particular, want more than a steady job.
A recent survey found that the most common reason why employees choose to leave their jobs is because they don’t have enough opportunities to learn new skills or develop professionally. Low salary falls to the second place.
So, apparently, in order to keep your staff, not to mention get them to be productive, you need to do more than showering them with money. You need your employees to be not only satisfied at their job, but also engaged in it.
Sounds confusing? Bear with us for a minute.
Job Satisfaction vs Employee Engagement
Let’s first define these two commonly confused concepts and explain why you can’t just pick one of the two and be fine.
Job satisfaction is essentially being content enough with work conditions so as not to want to leave immediately. This usually entails having an acceptable salary, possibly some perks, responsibilities that aren’t way too stressful, relatively little to no overtime and other similar conveniences. These days, there are also occasional remote work and flexible time thrown in the mix.
Providing this for your employees will only get you so far as they won’t suddenly snap and quit their job tomorrow. But although this will ensure that you have workers for at least some time in the future, it doesn’t guarantee that those employees will do their best, try to improve your business or even care what happens to the company. And you need people who innovate, contribute and push your business forward.
Although job satisfaction is certainly a prerequisite, this can only be ensured with employee engagement. When employees are engaged, they start to care about the work they do as well as how their output affects the company and they feel motivated to grow, learn and accomplish more. They’ll stay with you not because of job security, but because they truly want to and they’re less likely to leave even if offered a bigger salary.
Needless to say, you want employees who are both satisfied and engaged in their work.
The Benefits of Employees Enjoying Their Jobs
There are a couple of good things that happen alongside employee engagement:
- Motivation: When employees are engaged, they’re more motivated to achieve more and more likely to go far and beyond instead of just doing the bare minimum.
- Productivity: The engagement is also likely to reflect on the amount of work done. Employees are more focused and less prone to distractions and procrastination.
- Employee retention: As we’ve already mentioned, engaged workers are way more likely to stay and work for you.
- Good reputation: If you learn how to stimulate your employees, the word will spread around and your company will not only retain current workers, but also attract some new high-quality talent.
How to Keep Your Employees Engaged
Enough about the benefits and on to some hard work, because engaged employees aren’t created with a snap of your fingers. So let’s go over some tips on how you can make it happen. And heads up - for some of these, you might want to use time tracking to make things easier and more effective.
Optimize Their Workload
The fact that you’d like your employees to want to do more work doesn’t mean that it’s OK to force them to use every single minute of office time working themselves to the bone. This will, in fact, lead to burnout in every possible scenario.
So in order to achieve employee engagement, you’ll have to maintain the satisfaction - doable daily workload and no overworking. Nobody enjoys being tired, even if they’re on their dream job.
This is the first thing that time tracking software can really help you with. It measures the time employees spend on productive tasks and then compiles activity timelines and biorhythms. This time tracking data can help you decide when to assign tasks, who’s available for additional work, when employees need to take a break and so on.
All in all, try to keep their workload challenging but still feasible.
Show Them Recognition and Give Them Responsibility
Professional growth is a huge part of employee engagement. But workers can’t accomplish this on their own. Their progress needs to be stimulated and validated.
The first step towards enabling employees to grow is trusting them with responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to delegate. Yes, even the ‘sensitive’ tasks. Or the urgent ones. Or the important ones. Or the notorious ‘we-can’t-afford-to-screw-this-up’ cases. Getting a bigger responsibility is the most obvious sign to employees that they’re on the right track and that you’re happy with their work.
Which brings us to the recognition part. Simply throwing more and more responsibilities at your employees won’t necessarily make them feel appreciated. But a change in their job title from time to time and the accompanying salary bump might make a difference. Or just letting them know that you recognize their efforts and that they’re doing a good job.
And it doesn’t even have to be exclusively for big breakthroughs. Keeping your employees engaged also means letting them know that, for instance, you see that their productivity has improved according to your time tracking software. Rewarding them for accomplishing business goals goes a long way towards aligning their success milestones with yours.
Provide Frequent Feedback
Employee engagement can’t be created by approaching your workers once every seven months when they do something extraordinary and patting them on the back. You need to discuss their progress, goals and your expectations in an ongoing evaluation process.
This is another thing that you can use time tracking for. The reports will give you a nice objective overview of employees’ performance. But don’t forget to include other important criteria as well, like quality of work, ideas and innovation, collaboration with others, etc.
Personal feedback will let employees know that you value their contributions and care about their development, which will in turn keep them engaged.
Maintain Good Work-Life Balance
Finally, the crucial aspect of employee engagement is showing them that you realize that it’s not all about work. Be sensitive to the fact that they have families, they get sick, they want to travel, have hobbies, spend time with friends and so on and so forth.
Some companies choose to go out of their way by organizing weekly team building activities, paying for employees’ gym memberships, allowing unlimited remote work, etc. But just providing employees with enough days off and avoiding overtime work whenever possible should be enough for a start.
The trick to job satisfaction and employee engagement is realizing that the work they do at your company should be more than a job, but still less than life.
Getting your top employees to stay at your company, be productive and accomplish extraordinary results entails so much more than giving them a high enough salary to make them satisfied. It also means challenging them, recognizing their accomplishments, stimulating their growth and helping them improve as professionals.