Ensuring an engaged workforce is key to a successful business. Providing employees with a great experience through an Employee Service initiative can be a good way to gain a competitive advantage and become an employer of choice. A recent Gallup Poll identifies that approximately 30 percent of full-time workers are engaged at work. How do your employees compare to this? Since managers have the biggest impact on how an employee feels about work, let's look at this from another perspective. How do your managers compare to this?
In many organizations, the company gives employees an annual survey. This survey asks a variety of questions, and the information from employee responses is condensed into a report for HR and Management. After these reports are reviewed, an action plan is created to address areas of concern. The problem with these surveys is that they are often addressing issues after the fact, or the problem may already be too late to fix. By shifting our actions and behaviors from this reactive approach into a more proactive employee-centric approach, we can realize an improvement on employee engagement and retention. I call this the Employee Service approach.
The Employee Service approach is about taking a positive, proactive approach toward interactions with employees, much like many companies do with their Customer Service efforts. When companies take good care of employees and the employees feel cared for, then the employees take care of the customer and the company. How do companies shift into providing Employee Service?
Stop being reactive, and be FIRST (First, Inquisitive, Ready, Sincere, Trustworthy) using the FIRST action items below.
• Be First: Be the first one to smile and say hi when passing employees/co-workers. This is a small effort on your part, but it makes others feel valued and welcome. Being first gives you an opportunity to connect and build better working relationships with employees. It makes you more approachable, and it opens the door to future communication.
• Be Inquisitive: Ask questions—lots of questions. Ask employees/co-workers how their day is going. Ask questions about personal details they have previously shared like pets, children, trips, and sports teams. Equally important, ask about work projects. Think of ways to ask employees questions about work-related issues rather than telling them. Asking questions will give them an opportunity to engage, and it builds trust. This also empowers the employee to be actively involved in offering suggestions or problem solving.
• Be Ready: Be ready to recognize performance around the time it happens. It's important to recognize employees for a job well done, not just exceptional performance. Be specific, and make it personal. If possible, do it the same day, or the next day. Don't wait, or you lose impact. Sometimes all it takes is saying, “Great job on ___,” or “Way to go with ___” to make an employee feel valued. This also has the potential to improve performance by reinforcing the desired behaviors. You can increase the impact by putting it in writing through an email or thank-you card.
• Be Sincere: Be sincere with your employees. That is, be yourself! Don't get caught up in the classification difference between you and your employees. Be genuine in conversations of praise, or when addressing concerns. It's easy to spot a fake, and not many people like those.”
• Be Trustworthy: Start by trusting your employees. Be open and honest as long as it is appropriate. You may not be able to discuss everything with your employees, but for the things you can discuss, tailor your message and be as direct as possible. Don't “beat around the bush” or make it a guessing game for the employee. Being transparent is a great way to encourage open dialogue.
Through the implementation of the Be FIRST principles, employers can ensure that the needs of their employees are being met. By combining these action items, managers and leaders will have a better understanding of their teams through the interactive process, and they’ll be better equipped to support their employees. Be FIRST in demonstrating value for your employees, proactively creating a better environment for all, and making an impact on employee engagement.