Engaging workers with the job

16 Jan

Keeping workers engaged means focussing on human connections.

Engaging workers and keeping them happy is a full-time job. For human resources management professionals, employee engagement is part of the daily grind. According a study by Gallup cited by the Chicago Tribune, there are costs when employees aren't connected to their work. Only 30 percent of Americans describe their relationship to their jobs as "engaged," and this lack of engagement is costing the U.S. between $450 to $550 billion per year in lost productivity.

The Tribune recommended employers who want to encourage their employees to work hard try to rediscover their purpose as companies. One such business, Medix, faced a great deal of turnover from millennials until its managers put together the slogan "Positively Impacting Lives," and transformed it into a company that helps people find employment.  The important aspect here is finding a way for employees to feel like they are doing something major and purposeful with their lives. Even people who work in administrative support positions need to believe the work they are doing is meaningful to the people they are assisting. Millennials in particular want to be leading lives of meaning through their work. Separate studies cited by the Tribune show that millennials will do jobs for less money if the business they do is perceived as valuable.

Remember to treat employees as human beings
A Forbes article explained that people generally don't respond to a more relaxed work environment by instantly becoming engaged and working harder. Typically, the engagement must come from an interior place created when managers sit down and really communicate with their employees. Employees don't necessarily care if the human resources team installs a foosball or a soda fountain in the employee lounge. What matters is connections between the staff and managers. If people don't feel like their employers care about them, then it won't matter how much focus is placed on engagement because workers will feel that they are not being respected.

Emotional connections
According to Gallup, the emotional connections people have at their jobs are what keep them returning. This doesn't mean having friends at the office, but that people treat each other well and that the job is something treated as important by other people. People have the same needs from their work as they do from every other part of their lives. Although people expect to work, they also want to be treated fairly instead of replaceable staff members.

Ultimately, treating people with the respect they deserve will be better in the long term than making work fun. Doing a survey to see how happy employees are isn't as important as connecting with workers on a deeper level.

"Surveys are fine, but simply having actual conversations and asking employees 'What can we do better?' is much more valuable," said Neil Morrison, group human resources director for Penguin Random House U.K., according to an interview with the Chicago Tribune. "If employees can't sit down with their boss and talk about things, it doesn't matter how many anonymous surveys you run; you have a problem."

In the end, human resources is about connecting people with others in ways that are appropriate, respectful and real. This is what keeps people coming back to work day after day.

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