Tooltip TextWant to improve your leadership skills and understand how to develop a highly-engaged team that stays for the long haul?
Great! Because I’m here to help you do that – right here – right now with my ultimate secret to engaging your employees.
And this secret is not what you might think.
This isn’t a leadership skills blog touting the same old rhetoric we all know and are sick of.
In this business leader’s guide, I’m revealing the key thing you need to do this year to keep employees engaged in this post-pandemic age of demanding staff and tricky talent shortages.
But first, let’s prime this business leadership lesson with a reality check:
Employee engagement has evolved
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few years, it should be clear that leader/employee relationships are evolving – and consequently, so is employee engagement.
And for most leaders, this employee engagement evolution hasn’t necessarily made it easier for us to operate our businesses and serve our clients. But how did we get here?
Here are the five factors that fueled employee engagement evolution.
#1 The COVID-19 pandemic
Don’t get me wrong; the employee engagement evolution was coming one way or another. It was unavoidable, but the pandemic certainly accelerated the evolutionary process of employee/leadership relationships.
#2 New employee expectations
Spurred on by the pandemic fallout, our employees set new expectations for their work experience. Whether it was a better “work/life balance” or something more complex, like working in a “mission-focused” job, employees expected more from their leadership.
#3 The Great Resignation
New employee expectations led to three words sure to increase the stress levels of any business owner: The Great Resignation! Disenchanted staff voted with their feet by leaving any and every position that didn’t meet their new expectations.
#4 Younger replacements
The Great Resignation then created another factor fueling the evolution of employee engagement: newer, younger hires were showing up, and they had new training and compensation requirements.
Coupled with significant inflation, many industries lost an entire generation of skilled workers and replaced them with unskilled workers that often demanded higher pay. For business owners, this meant higher expenses and lower output. Ouch!
#5 The Great Regret
An influx of younger replacements led to the fifth and final factor that fueled the evolution: The Great Regret!
Now turning over regularly into new jobs, these team members began realizing that none of their new work environments were meeting their expectations, and they should have considered staying in their original role!
In our business, we hoped that the new employee would work out well and that our challenges were simply transient. The reality is that team members now expect a healthy work environment to feel engaged… and few of us know how to deliver it.
What can industry leaders do about this?
Engagement evolutions need leadership revolutions
What got us here won’t get us there. The same team management, leadership systems, and cultures that created our challenges won’t create our solutions.
We studied the healthiest, highest-performing cultures across all industries and realized they shared two critical distinctions:
#1 Engaging young staff is a priority
First, the younger generational dynamics forced this shift, so they need to be our focus. The good news is that the same systems and experience they require will also satisfactorily serve our more “advanced” generational dynamics in the workforce.
What is good for one, is good for all.
#2 People processes must change
Second, we will have to make some revolutionary changes to our people processes to accommodate our new world, engage our staff, and increase retention. But it isn’t going to be easy.
The secret to engaging employees: Get personal!
In other words, “enter the danger!”. What do I mean by that? In our practice, “entering the danger” always referred to addressing the thing you didn’t want to address—the real issue. Perhaps the issue behind all the issues.
With our teams in 2023 and beyond, entering the danger means leaders talking to staff about their personal lives. Yes, their personal lives. Pause here if reading that line made you uncomfortable or if you need a minute to compose yourself.
You may not like it, but it’s true and must be done. Why? Because our staff have realized that:
1 – Their work life and home life aren’t separate.
2 – They might spend more time at the office than at home…so it needs to be enjoyable.
3 – Work problems go home with them, and home problems end up affecting their office life.
It is all connected!
How do these realizations affect your business? To engage employees, leadership MUST make a meaningful contribution to your team’s personal lives… and the only way you can do it is to talk about it.
But getting personal with employees isn’t what you think
The first question everyone asks when this subject comes up is, “are we even ALLOWED to talk about personal lives in this HR era?” Let me put you at ease: As the leader, you aren’t responsible for what is going on in your team members’ home lives!
You aren’t forcing them to disclose private information or anything that violates their privacy rights. You should never cross the appropriate boundaries that our HR professionals have established.
However, what you ARE doing is letting your team know that your business wants to help them live a fulfilling life.
You ARE telling them that their personal life matters. You ARE leaving room for them to have personal life challenges…because they do…just like you do. It’s the truth. Up until recently, we’ve all just acted like it wasn’t.
But if you want to keep your staff with you long-term, highly engaged, and super motivated, you must get ready to get personal.
How in the world do you get personal the right way?
It all comes down to having a structure among leadership for what you talk about and when you talk about it. We call this “connecting” with our people, and it’s the first step in our engagement process.
The best way to connect with your staff and keep employee engagement levels high is to give every team member a personal development plan with a balance across their “5 Ps.”
What are the 5 Ps of employee engagement ?
- #1 Power
The first is their POWER, not power as in their strength – but their energy levels. Supporting your staff’s physical and mental health are key to engaging them here.
- #2 Purpose
The next is PURPOSE, because every employee should have a clear purpose and know that they are fulfilling it in their activities within your business.
- #3 People
Third, is PEOPLE, because humans were designed for strong, healthy relationships…they just don’t happen by accident. How can you support healthy working and personal relationships for your staff?
- #4 Prosperity
The fourth factor is PROSPERITY, which encompasses how your staff benefits from the work they put into various goals – both inside and outside the office.
- #5 Perform
Finally, each person needs to PERFORM, which means that we are validating and measuring the value that we provide to the world.
Life is working well when you and your team are healthy in all 5 Ps. This brings us to the last point:
How often should we get personal with our staff?
In our companies, it happens at least every 90 days. Any less is not sufficient. Life happens constantly and quickly. How much has changed for you in the last year?
And…when things start to drift in any one of the 5 areas, leaders are able to diagnose and address the drift quicker with a 90-day frequency, keeping employees engaged, aligned, and happy.
Now that you know the secret to employee engagement, put it into practice!
The secret to engaging your employees might not have been what you wanted to hear. Maybe it’s not something you are comfortable with…yet.
But entering the danger and building a system to support the personal development of your team members is critical from this day forward if you want to achieve robust and sustained employee engagement.
At the end of the day, isn’t this what we should all genuinely want as trusted leaders?
Making a meaningful contribution to the lives of the people that support our business? Being willing to see them as they truly are..as whole people that are the sum of their different life spaces?
My hope is that someone will make that commitment to you and that you will make that commitment to your people. Enter the danger; it’s worth it.
If you want expert guidance to make an already awesome culture even better, engage your employees like never before, and ensure they stay; speak to me.
I’m Dr. Eric J Roman, your heart-centered mentor inspiring change and manifesting impact to help you create a better future for your business.