Elevating Employee Engagement Starts with Effective Managers

Up Your Culture recently released Engage 2024: The Company Culture Report, highlighting annual trends around employee engagement.  You may be surprised to learn that a whopping 99% of people believe culture is important to the success of an organization.

When companies build strong and intentional cultures, they enjoy high levels of employee engagement, which means their people have an emotional commitment and willingness to give their best at work.

And when that employee engagement is not there, the results are astounding:

  • According to Gallup, the total cost of disengagement in the US is estimated at a staggering $450 – $500 billion per year
  • A disengaged employee costs an organization approximately $3,400 for every $10,000 of salary, or 34%

We also know that while culture may sound simple, it isn’t easy.

If you are curious about engagement at your company, a good place to start by focusing your attention first on those who manage and lead your people.  Managers and leaders play a crucial role in employee engagement and are truly the key to high levels of engagement in any successful organization.

The data strongly shows that managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units, according to Gallup.  This highlights the crucial role that managers play in influencing the engagement and overall satisfaction of their teams.

The Engage 2024 Report revealed another powerful insight about the role manages play in all of this: 30% of managers believe their company culture is getting worse, while front-line employees are much more positive with 81% believing their culture is improving

If you are a manager, here are several best practices that can help you take ownership of your company’s culture and work with other leaders to identify the weak spots and make positive culture changes to help increase engagement on your teams.

Preventing Burnout

Pay attention to signs of burnout with your people, and yourself, including lack of focus or motivation, exhaustion, irritability, absenteeism, physical symptoms or changes in attitude. Prioritize self-care and make it a part of the company culture.

This can include providing resources for mental and emotional well-being, such as counseling services, wellness programs, or employee assistance programs.  Monitor employee well-being and be proactive in addressing burnout before it becomes a more serious issue.

Building Trust

Trust is nonnegotiable and managers who understand and commit to integrity, accountability, and clarity will reap the rewards.

Build your brand as a leader who is transparent about company goals and decisions. Hold yourself accountable by ensuring all commitments are met to build a strong foundation of trust and with your team.

Create psychological safety to have candid and honest two-way conversations where your people feel open to share their voices, feedback and questions.

Promoting Work-Life Balance

Wherever possible, promote a work-life blend strategy, encouraging flexible working hours and remote work options. Foster an environment of trust where employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns and discussing their work-related stress.

Offer flexible work arrangements such as flexible work hours, part-time or job-sharing options to help employees balance their work and personal responsibilities.

Intentional Culture Building

Make culture a priority and focus.  At Google, one of the most well-known companies in the world, leaders were intentional about building a strong, positive culture. They created and implemented regular team-building activities and a focus on fostering a sense of community, even in a hybrid work environment, to help create a connected and motivated workforce.

Create events or other activities that get people away from their normal routines and help relieve pressure.  You can show appreciation for your people by taking the time to find out how they like to be recognized and be purposeful in your recognition.

Core Values Alignment

Identify and clearly define your company’s core values. At Google, the leadership had high expectations for their organization to practice what it preached. Managers ensured that the company’s actions were always aligned with its core values.

This alignment not only boosted employee morale with their employees (Googlers) but also attracted new talent who resonated with the company’s values.  Make sure your core values are not just hanging on the walls, but practiced in the halls.

Visionary Leadership and a Shared Mission

Make sure that your company has a compelling and clear mission statement and ensure that everyone is on board and connected with that vision.

When you communicate a clear, compelling mission your people can feel a sense of strong sense of purpose in their work, and it also creates the connection so that everyone was rowing together.

Transparency and Communication

Create an open environment where everyone’s voice is heard and valued. Companies with strong cultures believe and stand for true transparency and two-way communication.

Work on building your active listening skill set and regularly update your team on company progress dialogue. These practices significantly increase engagement and foster a sense of belonging and trust.

Why Managers Matter: The Statistics

When a manager is disengaged, their employees are significantly more likely to be disengaged.  Today, it looks like too many managers are struggling and feel helpless in turning this around.

By focusing on the areas above, managers and leaders can significantly enhance employee engagement.  With the right strategies and a dedicated approach, it’s possible and immensely rewarding to transform employee engagement and benefit from higher productivity and a more positive work environment.

Pic designed by Freepik.com.

Kelly George is a Certified Talent Analyst at The Center for Sales Strategy and Engagement Specialist at Up Your Culture. Kelly resides in Charleston, SC, and is the founder of a local nonprofit supporting mental health and wellness through meditation and mindfulness.

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