Two Simple Steps to Increase Workplace Engagement

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Job jumping — moving from job to job every year or two — used to be almost universally frowned upon in screening prospective employees. Now, it’s all too common, especially in fast-paced sectors like software engineering. People who frequently change jobs should not be branded disloyal or fickle, however, as many critics have been quick to label Millennials, in particular. Setting aside salary aspirations, job jumpers are typically looking for something they haven’t found: rewarding engagement and the personal freedom to apply their creative energy. If you’re a manager, you’re saying to yourself, “But, I provide that! People can work from home once a week, if they like. As a team, they set their own ‘core hours.’ And we have a ping pong table and a popcorn machine.”

To a limited degree, Work From Home policies with team-set hours and office perks do address the freedom piece, but when coupled with the same old projects and practices, it amounts to little more than not-so-subtle bribery. So, how do you retain your team (particularly those Millennials) AND raise their quality of work? Further, how do you keep new ideas percolating through your organization? Try testing out these two ideas that, when used together, can give you the insight you need to know your new techniques are working.

Ask for input. The mechanics of asking for input is itself an art form, especially when being done anonymously. If you’re less worried about that, surveys, a simple show of hands, or open conversation all work well – and there’s really nothing wrong with this direct approach. If you’re going to ask for input, however — on products, processes or practices — be sure you intend to actually record, consider and implement at least some of what’s being offered. If you have hired good people, they should have good ideas to share that make sense in your structure.

Measure everything. When evaluating any new work method, run short experiments and measure what you are doing. Even the input gathering process itself can be measured. How many new ideas were generated? How many were implemented? Did they increase productivity or reduce waste or keep things the same? Did communications channels become more or less active? Have more connections formed? Tracking your progress will provide insight into your company’s culture and the various skillsets that exist within it.

If you’re curious about what really engages your employees, start with basic techniques. These simple solutions don’t take a lot of time and can increase engagement substantially. Definitely worth trying — even if only experimentally — but be sure to measure your results!