Building (and Maintaining!) a Culture of Employee Engagement

A cartoon of employees engaging in conversation

Welcome back AADOM Tribe! We’ve reached the fourth installment of our AADOM HR Crash Course that we built based on questions you all asked us at last year’s conference. If you missed the first three, go back and check them out here. This edition will be focused on the second part of setting your practice up for a culture of engagement, which is one of the most important aspects of having a successful practice (but also one of the most confusing topics for both office managers and practice owners).

Keep in mind, building a culture of engagement takes practice and work, both of which may be hard for you to find time for (we know how busy you office managers are!). However, if you are patient with yourself and the people you manage, the results will very much be worth the time you spend. Not only will you see an increase in retention and profit within the practice, but also an overall morale boost that will make work better for everyone involved.

Let’s Start With The Foundation

Improving employee engagement can be a daunting task. The best thing you can do to get your team engaged is to build a culture of engagement for your business. We don’t mean this passively, as in, “allow a culture of engagement to develop for your business.” Rather, if you haven’t done so already, you should take an active role in defining your practice’s Purpose, Mission, and Core Values.

When developing your company culture, test the ideas you come up with with your employees to ensure they resonate and are authentic and, even better, take steps to build that profile with your employees!

By working with your employees to develop your company culture, you can be sure that it will mean more to your team than empty words. Involving them in the process of defining your company’s core values will give you the best chance of getting your team personally invested in seeing your business succeed. Once you’ve got something you all feel good about, post the results somewhere in your office that your employees will see every day.

Creating your company culture is not an exercise in marketing or advertising, and it’s more than an HR function. This is about establishing a foundation for your business on which all of your future management and business decisions will be based.

When you establish your Purpose, Mission, and Core Values together, you make it so employees can see themselves within your organization’s culture. For help developing these core elements, check out our free Manager’s Playbook on Company Culture…Click to open in a new window….

For CEDR members, we want to ensure that your unique core values, purpose, and mission statements are reflected in your custom employee handbook. Since all of your employees will read and sign your handbook on their first day of employment, including that content is a great way for your team members to get acquainted with your culture early in their tenure with your business.

With these foundational elements in place, you can drive employee engagement by continually providing both positive and redirective feedback and having regular check-ins with your team members. We recommend a system of regular one-on-one conversations with direct reports to build trust and rapport, troubleshoot challenges at work and give feedback and recognition on a regular basis. Plus, you can use these foundations that you’ve put in place to support any conversations you may need to have, such as corrective actions. This will help your employees understand their individual contributions to the business and how their actions align with that foundation and that you as a manager or owner notice the effort they put in.

Goal Setting, Accountability, Rewards & Celebration

Another fundamental component of building and maintaining a culture of engagement involves co-creating goals for your team to achieve together. We all want to know that the work we do makes a difference. When your employees are empowered to help set their own goals, it makes it easy for them to recognize how they contribute to helping your business achieve those goals and to see the integral role they play in the success of your business. Highly engaged employees value what they do as much as you do.

Holding employees to high standards based on specific, measurable goals derived from your company’s mission, purpose, and core values can be a great tool for increasing engagement at your business. Employees thrive when they have something to work toward as a team and it’s a thrill for everyone at your business to reach a milestone together.

Aim high when setting goals for your employees. Mediocre goals breed mediocrity. And having no goals means your team won’t have anything to strive for beyond continuing to collect their regular paychecks.

Plus, your highest performers won’t feel engaged if the bar for success is too low or non-existent, or if low performers aren’t held accountable for underperforming. This is just one more example of why regular feedback and check-ins…Click to read more in a new window… are such an important part of your management strategy.

When you hit your goals, take time to celebrate with your team. Celebrating wins together may be the most important part of the goal-setting process when it comes to engagement. This doesn’t necessarily mean paying out monetary rewards for every success. A celebration can take many forms, including recognizing employees for their contributions individually or during team meetings, giving out an extra day or a few hours of time off, or just taking a moment to give yourselves a round of applause or do a happy dance – whatever makes sense for your team and helps the role players feel proud of and appreciated for their accomplishments.

Keep in mind that employees may have different preferences for being recognized. Some employees may love a moment of public recognition, whereas others might cringe at the thought of being the center of attention during a team meeting. Ask your employees how they like to be recognized to make sure you’re doing so in a way that will be appreciated. An engaged employer is also flexible when it comes to understanding and recognizing the different preferences of their direct reports.

Finally, encourage your team members to support and recognize each other, as well. Employees that have job satisfaction are more likely to celebrate the success of others. This could be as simple as asking employees to give other team members “shout outs” for achievements and effort during team meetings or putting a “Recognition Box” in your break room where employees can drop kudos to their team members that you share during meetings or 1-on-1s with that employee.

Encouraging your employees to celebrate and show appreciation for each other can also help prevent needless drama in the office. When employees are challenged to look for the positive in their fellow team members, it helps build trust, camaraderie, and connection between team members. And when employees feel connected to their coworkers, it fosters engagement and can lead to better performance. After all, running a successful business is not just an individual effort– it’s a team effort.

Stay Tuned…

As we said in our last article, we know this can be a daunting task, so take some time to see where you are starting, so you can figure out where you need to go (and be patient with yourself while you do it). The drivers of employee engagement are essential to get set in place to increase your retention and profits in the long run and make your workplace better for everyone involved. In next month’s installment of our AADOM HR Crash Course, we will be diving into policy-related questions that you’ve asked us, including information on documentation, vacation, and maternity leave.

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