From the rise of HR applications and remote work, the workplace became more innovative in 2015. What will 2016 look like? One trend that will continue is employee engagement and the statistics surrounding it. According to a Fall 2015 U.S. Workforce Employee Engagement study, even though engagement levels dipped from a year ago, personal confidence at work is high (52%), and employees (in general) feel much more satisfied with their organizations, leaders, and future opportunities.
However, in the same survey, more people trusted their data than their senior leaders or direct managers. Furthermore, Brandon Gaille explains the effect of trustful leadership, “Trust in executives can have more than twice the impact on engagement levels than trust in immediate managers.” In short, leadership tactics define company culture as well as the work being produced.
No matter your organizational size, it’s important for leaders and management to develop effective leadership skills that produce a motivative work culture and engaged employees. It’s also important that leadership builds the right kind of engagement and not the type of engagement that will fade six months down the road.
Below are five aspects that leadership should bring and embody for work and team culture.
The best relationships we can have are honest ones and leadership needs to set the precedent for a collaborative and work culture with candor. Laura Rittenhouse explains in a recent podcast that “Candor is essential to creating ethical, trustworthy cultures” and that “leaders who choose to communicate candidly are those who have the courage to shine light into dark places.” Candor helps employees have a sense of belonging to their organization and helps build meaningful conversations.
Once candor is established, it opens the door for other important leadership aspects, like trust, feedback, and more collaborative cultures, which benefit engagement.
In addition to clearer communication and candor, leaders need to instill trust within their employees. There’s a reason you hired the people you did, so have the confidence to throw them in work situations that will help the employee grow. Trust also includes a level of transparency in both work relationships and within business. Organizations should work on finding the right line between too little and too much transparency within their company culture that, in the end, can help increase employee engagement. When trust starts at the top, it sets precedent throughout the rest of the company.
- Career development
The key to better employee retention is having career development plans with employees. Leadership needs to take the time to meet one-on-one with employees to get to know where they would like to see themselves within the company as well as general career goals. Take the time to work out individual career development plans with employees and have regular check-ins to measure progress. When employees see and work towards career goals, better engagement follows.
Along with career development, employees need consistent feedback at work, especially when good work is done. It not only helps give direction for employees but gives them more motivation to do better work in the future. For instance, one German study found that “feedback is widely acknowledged to be central not only to employee motivation and performance but also to job satisfaction.”
In addition, having feedback integrated into leadership can add a valuable resource for the employee to use, which in turn creates a more collaborative culture.
Lastly, leaders need to take the time to provide real recognition to their employees. Recognition shouldn’t act like a chore, but something the leadership really believes in and takes the time to make it personable, emotional and effective. Employers should look past tangible gifts and find everyday ways to show their appreciation for the work being done. It can vary from a simple email to a section of time cut out in weekly meetings to praise great work being done.
All and all, leadership has a direct impact with employee engagement and it’s important that management develops these five aspects into their work and workplace culture.