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Drivers of Employee Engagement: Supervisors

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Drivers of Employee Engagement: Supervisors

The holiday season is upon us, and many individuals are reflecting on their past year, both personally and professionally. In the workplace, leaders and employees alike are contemplating their successes in 2015 and identifying areas where they would like to focus more attention in 2016 and beyond.

For many organizations, one area that continues to receive attention is employee engagement. With the number of engaged employees across all industries continuing to hover around 30%, many organizations are resolving to continue focus on engaging their workers into the new year.

By understanding how each of these drivers impacts engagement, and what to do to improve on each of these topics, leaders nationwide can create action plans to increase engagement levels.In this article, we will provide additional detail and best practices on one of those key drivers: Supervisors.

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Supervisors’ Impact on Employee Engagement

Everyone knows the power a boss can have to make your job great or to make you dread going to work each day. We’ve all heard the stories about truly amazing bosses, and we’ve been awed to hear various horror stories. Our familiarity with both good and bad bosses is why movies such as Horrible Bosses and Office Space are so popular: most of us can relate to the feeling of having an “interesting” boss in one way or another.

Supervisors directly impact the amount of direction, guidance, support, and recognition that employees receive. Because of their impact on these areas, they can have a huge influence on each employee’s engagement level. While Avatar’s research shows there are other key drivers that contribute to engagement to a greater extent, each of the drivers rated above Supervisor can be directly impacted by the supervisor.

Take Organizational Culture, for example, which is shown to have the most influence on engagement. Organizational Culture includes having trust in an organization. The trust between supervisors and employees is vital and may often be the most easily broken. When this happens, employees may feel that not only can they no longer trust their supervisor, they also do not see a culture of trust in general across the organization. Thus, their opinion of the organizational culture will decline, followed by their engagement levels.

3 New Year’s Resolutions for Supervisors in 2016

To help prepare you to engage your staff in 2016, here are three resolutions any supervisor can make:

  • Discuss Career Development on a More Regular Basis: The holiday season is also the season of performance reviews in many organizations. While the performance review is seen as a typical time to discuss career development opportunities, supervisors and managers should make a point to have these conversations outside of the annual review process.
  • Employees want the opportunity to continue to develop in their careers, and they want to feel that their direct supervisor is helping them do that. By regularly discussing their career opportunities and how they can continue to grow in their current job, they will recognize that you want to help them excel. Higher levels of engagement will result. You should also maintain an open door policy and encourage employees to come to you at any time for advice or discussions on career development.
  • Maintain Strong Relationships: As a supervisor, it’s safe to assume you are likely very busy. Sometimes, when you’re stretched thin and attempting to meet deadlines, it’s easy to forget that an important part of your job is to maintain strong relationships with your direct reports. Successful managers will continuously stay up-to-date on what their employees are working on, as well as key aspects of employees’ personal lives (assuming they wish to share).
  • By maintaining these relationships and understanding what obligations employees have and/or what they like to do outside of work, you will show employees you care about them as more than just someone to do the tasks at hand. Employees will appreciate that you recognize they have a life outside of work and that you are willing to be flexible to help them balance their various personal and professional obligations. This understanding will lead to higher employee engagement levels.
  • Recognize Employees for their Work: Just as with maintaining relationships, it can be difficult to remember to recognize employees for the work they do for your organization. However, by not recognizing and rewarding employees, you are almost guaranteeing decreases in engagement. If you provide pointed and positive feedback on a regular basis for employees, they will see that you appreciate how hard they are working, and their engagement levels will likely increase. As an added bonus for you, they will take pride in continuing to provide high-quality work, potentially impacting productivity and accuracy on their projects.
  • The recognition does not need to be a big deal – a simple Thank You can go a long way. Remember also to ask employees how they like to be recognized. An employee who hates to be the center of attention may not appreciate public recognition during a Town Hall, but your other direct reports may feel differently. By providing positive feedback on specific areas, in the way employees wish to be recognized, you will see engagement levels spike.
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