Five ways to show employees that you have their back

According to Gallup’s latest national employee engagement report, only 31.5 percent of employees are engaged in their work. The others aren’t lazy. They don’t feel valued and have no clear direction or purpose. They feel that their accomplishments are going unrecognized, and that they are often blamed for things beyond their control.

The employees who are most engaged are those who actively care about the health and success of their company — even during difficult times. These are the people managers want to hire. But those employees know their value and won’t be treated like cogs in a machine.

Cogs show up and do the work, but they don’t propel companies forward, offer extra support to management, or come up with the next billion-dollar innovation. To capitalize on human potential, businesses must acknowledge that their workers matter.

One of my valued employees shared a story about his days working for a restaurant. The franchise’s incredible success was based partly on its ability to foster a teamwork environment. When an employee replenished items on the service line, the manager would say, “Thank you, salad bowls” or “Thank you forks” instead of acknowledging the person by name.

The manager was trying to emphasize that they were all working together as a team. In the process, he made them feel devalued and unfulfilled. What he should have been doing was engage with team members, valuing their opinions and supporting their efforts to succeed.

Here are five simple ways to demonstrate your deep commitment to employee success:

Ask questions. What are their triumphs? Where are they stuck? Do they feel recognized and valued? These questions make employees feel like you care about their contributions.

Give feedback. Recognizing triumphs and guiding growth should be hallmarks of every organization. Employee appreciation boosts morale, and mentorship allows people to develop the skills that increase their effectiveness and ability to achieve goals.

Trust them. Provide people with opportunities to solve problems on their own. Giving employees autonomy demonstrates trust and helps them feel fulfilled. When they know that a leader has their back, they show up in amazing ways. They become more accountable, which leads to increased loyalty and lower turnover.

Invest in personal goals. Leaders worry that outside projects draw focus away from work, but in reality they make people feel motivated and fulfilled. At my company, every employee receives $500 for their birthday to spend on personal development courses. This may not relate directly to what they do at the office, but they show up feeling more fulfilled, supported, and energized.

Change the language. It’s possible that the term “Human Resources” has exceeded its useful life. Consider renaming your department “People and Culture” instead, and relate to your employees as human beings rather than as tools or resources.

When people are treated as assets, they won’t be able to contribute in a way that leads to growth and success. When your employees feel valued as people — instead of cogs — there is no limit to what they can accomplish.

This piece was adapted from its original version here. 

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