Smart leadership realizes that to increase employee engagement and productivity across their workforce you must look beyond salary, benefits, and an occasional free pizza. Today’s employees want to feel valued.
A savvy manager knows that today’s employees (not just Millennials) place a high emphasis on being:
- Important to the team.
- Entrusted with information.
- Empowered to make a difference.
- Provided cooperative feedback and mentorship.
- Given appropriate recognition and reward.
A 2012 study by the American Psychological Association (APA) reported the following comparisons of those who feel valued against those who don’t:
- Those who report feeling valued by their employer are significantly more likely to be motivated to do their very best (93 percent vs. 33 percent).
- They are also more likely to recommend their workplace to others (85 percent vs. 19 percent).
- Those who do not feel valued are significantly more likely to seek new employment within 12 months (50 percent vs. 21 percent).
Statistically, more than nine out of 10 of employees who feel valued will channel those emotions into an enthusiasm and drive for maximum productivity and quality. So everyone wins.
The following suggestions will help you and your managers express your appreciation for your employees’ value to the organization:
Discover Their Motivations
Don’t assume you know what makes someone tick and don’t make yourself the reference point for others. People like different things:
- Some like public recognition, while others prefer a personal thank-you.
- Some want more responsibility for a job well done, while others simply want more of what they have received in the past.
- Some want a day off to spend time with family, while others prefer a $100 gift card for the local electronics store.
When you connect with someone on a personal level the trust and respect factors increase exponentially—as does the desire to perform at an even higher level.
Participate in Proactive and Frequent ‘Two-Way’ Feedback
Without regular feedback and direction, employees will form assumptions of how they are performing to meet business needs. These may be inaccurate assumptions. Encourage your managers and employees to meet at least every two weeks to discuss the ideas, successes, challenges, and any other concerns they may have.
When you’re giving feedback, try to avoid phrases like “You should” or “Why don’t you?” since you may sound like you are laying blame. Instead, invite feedback from the other party (see what we are doing here) by asking something like “What needs to happen so we can …?”
Remember, clumsy wording can ruin well-intentioned feedback whereas thoughtful communication can advance even a sticky situation. In the end, feedback is not just about being honest … it’s about being honest skillfully.
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Additionally, if you are the person receiving feedback, it is important to remember that your manager or colleague has come to you because of their perception of how something has transpired. Even if you don’t agree with what that person is saying, try not to get defensive. Instead, engage in dialogue by saying something like “I appreciate you bringing this to me so let’s try and walk through this in more detail.”
Inform and Empower
Almost everyone wants to hear and to be heard. One only has to skim through any social media platform, listen to talk radio, or participate in fantasy sports leagues to witness this.
At all times (without breaking any corporate confidentiality rules), inform and empower your employees. Quell the rumors and keep your team abreast of organizational and departmental happenings. The water cooler and rumor mill are two places that breed mistrust and kill productivity.
If you don’t already have a formal mechanism to solicit concerns from your team (and I am NOT talking about an annual engagement survey), change that. Find out what the concerns are–at least on a quarterly basis. Then, collate the information quickly, identify key areas for improvement, and empower your employees to make those improvements. When you make people feel important, show that their input is vital, and emphasize that they are part of a team that strives for continuous development … you will find success.
When employees feel valued, their sense of self-worth and self-esteem increases. This increased sense of self-worth and self-esteem are key drivers in building loyalty, morale, and greater efforts. The teams will work more collaboratively, harness their differences, develop great working relationships, and ultimately raise the culture and productivity at the local and enterprise levels.