Keeping your employees engaged and productive at work is one of many keys to success in business. Do not confuse this with employees who are “happy” to be at work. You do not necessarily need them happy; but you want employees who are reliable and focused on their tasks rather than texting their friends, updating their resumes, or complaining about how much they do not like their boss.
Whether you find the right employees certainly depends in large part on your hiring process; however, it also depends in large part on the work environment. Based on my experience, an employee’s engagement and productivity can often be tied back into the following three basic needs:
- The need to be treated fairly,
- The need to feel valued by a direct supervisor/line one manager, and
- The need to be empowered to do one’s job.
The need to be treated fairly
Employees will be more motivated, and show a greater sense of commitment, if they feel like they are being treated fairly; i.e., objectively, not subjectively. Good employees want to know that their efforts will be measured and recognized in some objective way, that they are not wasting their time trying to do a good job, and that their fate is not tied into the subjective whims of their boss. Treating people fairly and consistently does NOT mean treating everyone the same. This is a much longer topic for another time, but the key point is: your good performers should be rewarded, and your poor performers should feel pressure to perform. That is a fair result, and it is why objective measuring sticks such as productivity reports and staff rankings are often very helpful tools. It is also why your good employees will welcome measurement tools, and your poor performers will fear them.
The need to feel valued by a direct supervisor
An employee’s relationship with her direct supervisor is usually the single most important factor underlying whether she likes her job. It is also an important factor as to whether she will remain committed to your company and seek to improve the environment, e.g., by actually looking for new ideas and new ways to accomplish your company’s ultimate mission. Why? Because we all have an innate sense of trust and safety. If an employee feels valued by her supervisor, then she may have a high level of trust and feel safe, which in turn leads to a sense of commitment and loyalty that may not otherwise exist. The job becomes something bigger than “just a paycheck”.
The need to be empowered to do one’s job
This need can be termed as any of the following: empowerment, flexibility or latitude. To do their best job possible, employees often need opportunity and some alone time to focus on their most important tasks. Also, when employees have input on when, where, and how to get their work done, they are more likely to feel connected to a higher purpose at work and take ownership and pride in their work product. Most importantly, to maximize performance, employees should feel as though they can make decisions, within reason, without fear of retribution. Let your employees have some latitude, and, rather than micro-manage every task, rely on objective reports to measure whether they are doing their job properly.
For assistance with setting up or running your business, or with any other legal needs related to your business or estate planning, contact Fournier Legal Services now for a free consultation and planning session.
Joseph E. Fournier is an Attorney and a CPA who has more than twenty years of experience in a variety of business legal matters, including start-ups and company formations, drafting shareholder and operating agreements, contracts, employment law, commercial litigation, tax planning and audit defense, and mergers and acquisitions (M&A). He also handles estate planning matters, such as business succession planning, wills, trusts, and probate.