This week’s “Ask the Mompreneur” features an interview with Beverly Crowell, Vice President of Strategic Client Services for Career Systems International.
Ask the Mompreneur:
As a practicing mompreneur, I own a business with just a handful of employees. Since I can only offer so many promotions due to my size, other than raises and bonuses, what are some ways I can keep my employees engaged?
There’s great news for small business owners like you. While it’s true that pay matters, it often isn’t what matters most to employees. In fact, much of what does matter won’t cost much at all. In a recent study by Career Systems International and The Jordan Evans Group called “What Matters Most,” employees surveyed said the top five reasons they stay at work and stay engaged are:
1. Exciting and challenging work
2. Supportive manager/great boss
3. Being recognized/valued/respected
4. Career growth, learning and development
5. Flexible work environment
If you look at the top reasons employees stay at work, it’s easy to see that many are areas where small business owners can make a difference. Even so, you can’t do it all. Here are three secrets of employee engagement that will go a long way toward engaging your employees.
Engagement Secret #1 – Ask, don’t assume
Every employee is different. Henry Ford once said, “I hired an employee and got a person.” If you want to know what inspires, motivates and engages your employees, simply ask. Don’t wait for them to walk out the door before you ask what would make them stay. In the book, “Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay,” the authors suggest you schedule regular stay interviews with employees.
Not sure what to ask or where to start? Try posing the question, “What makes for a great day at work?” and then really listen to their answer.
Engagement Secret #2 – Act on it
Once you know why they choose to stay, don’t let that information fall by the wayside. Do everything you can to provide them what matters most. By doing so, realize that engagement is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Don’t worry about being “fair” and doing the same thing for every employee. One employee may want to learn something new on the job while another is happy doing the same thing every day. The one thing you should practice for all your employees equally is asking, not assuming.
Engagement Secret #3 – Be an engaged boss
Finally, remember that all employees want to work in a place where they feel valued, respected, and appreciated. Take time out of your busy day to say good morning; recognize an employee when something is done well; and show respect as a great boss by asking what matters most to them and doing what you can to meet their needs. Put down the smart phone, step away from the desk, and spend time with your employees!
Ultimately, the biggest secret about employee engagement is this – it doesn’t have to be hard or cost a lot of money. It’s common sense stuff, uncommonly practiced.
Jennie Wong, Ph.D., is a syndicated business writer, executive coach, and the author of “Ask the Mompreneur: Small Business Advice on Starting and Growing Your Own Company,” available at www.JennieWong.com. Email your entrepreneurship questions to TheJennieWong@gmail.com.