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How To Get Employees to Engage

November 19, 2019

At NextMapping we have surveyed thousands of leaders and one of the top issues facing leaders is “how to get employees to engage”.

Recently, I conducted a series of workshops for BMO Bank of Montreal across Canada. We traveled to Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto. The focus was on the future of work strategies with leaders in attendance from a variety of industries.

The industries that leaders represented at each workshop included payroll services, manufacturing, retail, agriculture, government, real estate, automotive, financial services, construction, and education.

The focus for each workshop was on being ‘future-ready’ as it relates to digital maturity, leadership ability and innovating for the future.

The leaders in the workshop participated in interactive dialogues around challenges in the workplace. Challenges included digital transformation, the fast pace of change and how to get employees to engage in the workplace.

I often say that technology is fairly easy and straightforward its the ‘people’ that are the challenge.

Many companies have been struggling with digital transformation because there was or has not been a focus on employee engagement in the process.

The most successful digital transformations happen as a result of a ‘people first’ focus. Steve Jobs had a fixation on the end-user of Apple innovations. The focus on the customer continues to drive Apple’s technology innovation.

In addition to focusing on the customer as ‘people’, we need to engage the workers to create a great employee experience.

Whether you want to engage employees to be happier at work or you want to create an innovative workplace culture the focus needs to be on the ‘human’ element of ‘work’.

Here are 4 ways how to get employees to engage at work:

  1. Focus on a change leadership approach to shift the company culture to one of innovation, growth, and experience. For example when implementing a new ERP system or migrating from a legacy system to the cloud spend equal time asking people for their input, questions, and concerns as you do on the technical aspects of the project.
  2. Create opportunities for ‘real-time’ input of ideas, suggestions, and improvements via live polling. For example as projects progress within the company create frequent windows of time where employees can respond to polls about specific milestones of project progression.
  3. Ensure your leaders are equipped with the skills to coach, guide and inspire employees. For example, many leaders have foundational skills of leadership such as critical thinking or decision making however lack development in ‘people skills’ or ‘soft skills’ needed to engage and inspire employees.
  4. Make it safe to ‘tell the truth’. For example, cultures where it is encouraged to out the elephant in the room or where it is okay to admit a mistake have the highest percentages of employee engagement.

Employee engagement is a future-ready strategy. Companies that are able to both attract and retain top talent are going to be the winners in the race for the future. Technology can innovate however we need people to create the future!

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