Employee engagement in 2022 declined for the first time in a decade, from 34% engaged employees in 2021 to 32% in 2022. Employee engagement can significantly impact a business’s performance, especially as it’s closely tied to tangible metrics like retention, turnover, absenteeism, profit, and productivity.
To boost business growth, now is the time for leaders to prioritize motivating their employees. Some ways to do this include diversifying employee skill sets, helping emerging leaders embrace their roles, and creating an environment where employees can successfully contribute. Talent is a business’s most important asset. With a focused commitment from leadership, employees typically feel more motivated by their work and agile in their approach to growing the business and their role within it.
Diversify Employee Skill Sets Beyond the Job Description
87% of millennials believe “learning and development in the workplace are important,” and 59% report that “development opportunities are extremely important when deciding whether to apply for a position.” While diversifying skill sets is significant for current and prospective employees, it’s critical for business outcomes, too. When employees’ skill sets extend beyond the job description, they bring a heightened value to their role. For example, suppose a person has the hard skills of a finance degree combined with the soft skills of leadership and teamwork. In that case, they’ll likely be able to supervise and lead others, implement sales goals, analyze data, and help sell products or services.
As HRKatha puts it: “Providing opportunities to build skills can open new avenues for advancement and progression for employees, whether they are just starting out or in the middle of their careers” — this applies to both hard and soft skills. By making employee development a key part of company culture, you can ensure workers stay updated on industry best practices and learn new skills to help them in their roles, contribute to teams, and benefit the business.
Help Emerging Leaders Embrace Their Managerial Roles
Emerging leaders are leaders in the making. They are typically high-potential professionals early in their careers and are self-motivated, resilient, curious, strategic, and collaborative. They’re the next group of individuals who, in due time, will hold leadership roles at the company. So, what better way for them to learn than to be mentored by a current leader?
89% of employees with mentors say their colleagues value their work, compared to 75% of those without mentors. One of the most important tasks leaders can do is provide mentorship and guidance to emerging leaders by offering support, a listening ear, and feedback to help them navigate the challenges and complexities of their roles. This can help build confidence, develop leadership skills, and learn from the experiences of others.
Leaders also possess the peripheral vision to find opportunities for emerging leaders. By taking on new challenges and responsibilities, as well as tasks and projects delegated by mentors or management, emerging leaders gain invaluable experience that can serve them well as their careers progress. For example, emerging leaders can sit in on an important business call and work with their mentors or leaders to strategically prepare for the meeting. This demonstrates trust, which can be a powerful motivator for any employee.
Leaders can also help by setting clear expectations and providing regular feedback. When leaders communicate what they expect, it helps emerging leaders understand their roles and responsibilities. Regular feedback can also highlight areas where employees are doing well and where they can improve, which is essential for their growth and development.
Create an Environment Where Employees Can Contribute Successfully
When employee contributions are recognized, it creates a sense of validation and purpose in their work — and they understand how their efforts make a difference and that they are valued team members. However, only one in two employees feel somewhat valued, and 1 in 10 don’t feel valued at all. When employees feel that their contributions are not valued, they may become disengaged and demotivated, telling themselves that their efforts are going unnoticed. This can have a negative impact on performance, as well as on the overall workplace environment.
Leaders create an environment that can successfully bring together different thoughts, feelings, ideas, and experiences so everyone can contribute in a way that is authentic to them and makes the most of their skills. For example, during a brainstorming session, leaders can create an environment that allows people to speak their ideas or, for those who may feel shy sharing publicly, they could submit them via an online form. Leaders can also decide whose perspectives and backgrounds are part of the conversation. This helps emerging leaders learn from each other and see many different ways of solving a challenge.
Leading by Example
Leaders who model positive behaviors set the tone for the entire organization. When leaders prioritize creating an environment where employees can engage with the leadership team, each other, and direct reports, it sends a clear message about the organization’s top priority — its people. In fact, companies with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable.