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7 Ways To Improve Employee Engagement and Productivity

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

How are you doing as leader? Is your enthusiasm high or are you feeling overworked, underpaid and in need of a vacation? What about your staff? Are they motivated or has their zest been zapped by being asked to do more and more with fewer and fewer resources? Unfortunately, the footprint of the average job has mushroomed over 30% since the recession started in 2007. How are you and your people doing? Has relief ever arrived, or are you all still being asked to continuously perform above max capacity?

Just as plants need fertilizer to maximize growth, employees need nourishment to stay motivated, engaged, and highly productive. Lots of books and articles address ways to motivate employees. Here are seven of my favorite easy, low cost ways to immediately improve employee engagement, morale and productivity:

Take time daily to interact with your employees. Walk about as they are working. Say hello and thank them for all they do. Look them in the eye, shake their hand or give them a pat on the back. You’ll be amazed at how valued they feel when they know you care and truly see them.

Ask what they need to be more successful. Regularly ask your staff if there’s anything they need to be more successful. Most will smile, say things are fine and get back to work knowing they have a great boss. Others will share concerns. Some you can take care of with little or no cost. Do so and you become someone they want to please even more.

If you can’t do something easily, but it makes sense, let them know you’ll work on it and when they can expect to see the request met. If it’s not something you’re ready or able to do, thank them for their input and let them know you’ll consider it.

Then follow up with them at a later time. If it’s not financially feasible, you can respond with “While it’s cost-prohibitive at this time, I appreciate your suggestion.” If it’s an outlandish request, you can laugh good-naturedly and say “Wouldn’t it be nice?”

Keep them informed. Good information is critical to job satisfaction and success. In its absence, the rumor mill kicks in and conclusions are drawn, often erroneously. The better the communication, the more effective your employees will be. Being in the know allows them to keep their focus where it should be, on their job.

Find out your employees’ passions. People who are doing what they love perform at the highest levels. Any time you can tie in their job to their passion, you’ll have a super motivated employee. Is this always possible? Of course not. And, when you can, you’re an ever bigger hero.

Let your people come in one hour late, or leave one hour early, one day a week. Your industry is demanding. Think how happy and motivated your people will be if one day of the week they have an extra hour. Their loyalty, motivation and productivity will far exceed the hour they are gone.

Have a contest. Create a contest for almost anything that can be measured and produces results. For example, largest increase in sales, best idea to cut out waste, the lowest accident rate… Couple it with a prize such as a trophy, plaque, pizza party or something reflective of the value added to your bottom line. Do this individually or by department. Post results, create a buzz and watch how a good-natured competition promotes productivity, fun and hustling to win.

Offer an incentive. Set a high but reachable goal for your individuals or departments, and offer a meaningful reward for those who accomplish it. Increased sales, employee safety, quality control and on-time deliveries all positively impact your bottom line. Pass some of the savings and profitability along, and your employees will work even harder.

While it’s not easy to keep your employees motivated, working hard and feeling valued. And, a motivated workforce is critical to success and a better bottom line. Think outside of the box and let me know what happens as you intentionally cultivate employee engagement.

Originally published in Garden Center Magazine, June 2014,


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