April 16, 2019

Do these two things to help managers improve employee engagement

Leaders play a key role in motivating, inspiring and engaging employees, and companies need to make sure they’re adequately prepared for their roles. Here’s how to close leadership skills gaps and set your organisation up for engagement success.

Loretta Perry

Loretta Perry is an experienced HR professional with more than a decade of experience in HR policy design and implementation, management development, change management, and employee engagement. Loretta leads Ceridian’s People & Culture team in the UK and was instrumental in improving Ceridian’s employee engagement index score from an industry standard 70% to a leading 83% in just two years. An advocate for lifelong learning, Loretta is augmenting her deep HR academic experience by studying a Law degree with a focus on employment, immigration and contract law.

You often hear that employee engagement starts with leadership, but what does that really mean?

Managers in particular are at the front lines with employees, and play a key role in motivating, inspiring and engaging them. That’s why companies need to ensure that managers are adequately prepared for the workforce.

How important is this, really? This finding from a recent Glassdoor study of 2,000 U.K workers may give you pause: one in five U.K. employees has resigned over a “bad boss.”

Through Ceridian’s cultural transformation journey, CEO David Ossip told the Financial Post he learned that a leader’s most important job is taking care of their people, and individuals promoted into these roles need to understand this. “[Leaders’] primary responsibility is to their employees. You have to weave that sense of service into the fabric of your culture to be successful,” he says.

Investing in leadership development is equally as important. When managers aren’t prepared with the tools they need to empower their teams, those shortcomings can trickle down to the rest of the organisation. It’s important to close leadership skills gaps to set managers up for success.

The best organisations equip managers with technology and training, so they can focus less on transactional aspects of management, and more on inspiring and motivating their employees. Here are two ways to strengthen leadership, and help managers power up.

Establish continuous feedback loops

It’s well-documented that for employees, a key aspect of a successful employee-manager relationships is better and more frequent communication. Start with simple things: managers should set a regular cadence of one-on-one meetings with their employees. These are informal, but they’re important to build trust and rapport.

“The ability to listen is one of managers’ most powerful tools,” says Deb LaMere, Ceridian’s product management manager. This means not simply saying you have an open-door policy, but being just as open to receiving feedback as you are to giving it, and demonstrating to employees that they’re being heard.

Related: Four ways to improve communication with your employees

Use a leadership effectiveness index

To hold leaders accountable for engagement and strategic success, we’ve established a leadership effectiveness index at Ceridian. It’s a simple set of questions we ask employees about their managers.

The goal of these questions is to understand, for example, if they are satisfied with their immediate managers, and whether or not they feel empowered and inspired by their managers. The outcome of having great leaders who embody organisational values is that employees are more engaged and committed, going above and beyond in their roles.

At Ceridian, we ask these questions on a pulse, or ongoing basis. When you’re starting out with a leadership effectiveness index, it’s important to establish a baseline, and then do it regularly so that you can get an accurate trend going forward. This helps to identify both leadership challenges and potential triggers of disengagement.

The top tips you need to rethink your engagement strategy for the modern workforce: Download our guide

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