As a team leader, you already know that focusing on employee engagement is key to leveraging your team members’ skills to their full potential. You might also know that the best methods for engaging employees can change over time.
This is particularly important to keep in mind at the start of a new year. To ensure your employees stay engaged in their roles throughout 2020, consider how you can apply the following lessons as a leader. They reflect key employee engagement trends you need to be aware of.
Define Your Purpose
Your team’s goal can’t simply be to make money for the company. Although it’s obviously necessary, if profit is the only driving purpose your employees share, they won’t remain committed to their work over the long run.
Today, people don’t only want to make a comfortable living—they also want to feel some degree of personal and professional fulfillment in their job. They need to know the work they are doing has genuine value. They want their jobs to mean something.
This means you need to define what your team’s larger purpose is. You also need to make sure you communicate this purpose often, so it’s never in doubt.
Of course, your team’s defined purpose needs to be authentic. For example, if you manage a team of developers creating mobile games, you can’t twist that reality and pretend that you’re saving lives through entertainment. That’s an admirable goal (and perhaps you could try to spin it that way), but this reasoning is disconnected from the type of work your team members actually do.
However, you could describe your purpose as providing the mobile gamer with entertaining and fun experiences that add some joy to their life. This may not sound as lofty as addressing a major social issue, but it’s genuine and therefore a more appropriate and meaningful goal to set. Your employees aren’t stupid, and they’ll only feel like they’re being condescended to if there’s a clear disconnect between their team’s stated purpose and the actual nature of their work.
Time Is Valuable
It will always be important to provide your employees with fair compensation. If they aren’t earning a competitive wage, they will naturally start looking for a job elsewhere.
That said, money is not the only form of compensation for employees’ value. In recent years, surveys have revealed that many people pursue jobs that allow for some degree of flexible scheduling. This can involve working remotely some or all of the time. It can also take the form of an environment where employees are free to come and go as they please, to a reasonable extent, as long as they complete their work.
Consider how you might be able to provide your team members with this type of flexibility. While you still need to ensure the arrangement isn’t so flexible that your employees’ productivity begins to falter, you also need to accept that schedule flexibility and work/life balance are increasingly important to most job seekers. Even if you don’t offer flexibility now, odds are good you will need to in the future. You’re better off focusing on this key engagement factor sooner rather than later.
Explore Gamification in Learning
Ambitious employees want opportunities to grow. Just as recent surveys have indicated that employees seek out jobs that allow for flexible scheduling, so too have surveys revealed that today’s most talented employees want to know their roles will provide them with chances to grow professionally and earn promotions.
This means you’ll need to ensure you’re offering your team members these opportunities. Throughout 2020, identify ways you can provide employees with chances to learn, develop new skills, and boost their own value to the company.
You could take this a step further by exploring gamification in learning, training, and professional development. As the name implies, gamification involves taking activity or experience that isn’t naturally associated with “fun” and turning it into a game with rewards, recognition, and incentives. Research shows that doing so can make learning new skills much more enjoyable.
This is obviously valuable to you as a team leader. After all, the more skilled and knowledgeable your team members are, the more productive and effective they will be as employees. While some of your more ambitious team members may naturally pursue learning opportunities, others may not be so inclined to take advantage of them. However, by gamifying professional development, you can make learning attractive to all employees, boosting the odds that more of your workers will participate.
What’s most important to remember is the simple fact that employee engagement trends change over time. Although these trends will likely take center stage in 2020, new trends in employee preferences and HR strategies may become increasingly prominent in 2021. It’s important to try new strategies, see what works and what doesn’t, and stay on top of the best ways to increase engagement within your organization.