Written by: Sara Choate, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Engaged employees – that’s where the magic happens. This occurs when you capture not just your employee’s heads, but their hearts, and it takes your organization to new heights. It’s the discretionary effort that we could all give if we wanted to. But, when you’re scrambling to retain talent and engage employees, how do you capture the head AND the heart?
- Engage the whole person. When we hire employees, we get the whole person, not just the version we want to show up during designated business hours. Caring for and knowing what’s going on in their personal lives matters. Early on at KPM, I remember people asking about my daughter and calling her by her first name. It seems almost trivial, but what a way to make someone feel cared for and appreciated! It’s about making a conscious effort to know your employees on a personal level.
- Engage the families. About five years ago, we started a Halloween tradition at KPM, and I’m continually surprised that Halloween is what makes our accountants come out of their shells and engage in friendly competition. This family fun event has proven to be an incredible team building experience and provides opportunities for families to get to know one another. It’s about creating fun activities that inspire connection, collaboration, and team spirit.
- Trust your employees. You hired your employees to be professional, get their work done, and contribute to the overall success of the organization. Help navigate performance when necessary and get out of their way. It’s about creating a mutual environment of trust and respect.
- Set and respect boundaries. Just recently, one of our shareholders said to me, “People have to live their lives outside of here.” Amen. I promise you that allowing your employees to do so creates a more engaged professional. Quite simply, you can’t be the best version of yourself at work if you don’t have the ability to also be your best self at home. It’s about creating work/life balance.
- Know that you’re not going to get it right all the time and neither are your employees. Give grace. Chances are, someone probably offered it to you at some point when you needed it the most. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have to sometimes make hard decisions for the betterment of our organizations – that’s business. What I’m talking about is creating an environment not founded in fear of failure. It’s about being understanding.
- Give your employees a creative outlet. Be open to innovation – the occasional “throwing something against the wall to see what will stick” approach will produce a place where people aren’t afraid to have big ideas. It’s about allowing them to think outside the box.
At the end of the day, it’s pretty simple: Engage the whole employee to capture their head AND heart.
The above article is modified from a post I shared on LinkedIn last summer that discusses my personal journey at KPM. I understand that keeping your employees engaged and retained is a top priority – not only for your organization’s benefit – but for theirs as well. If you’re struggling with engagement, or need a fresh perspective, contact KPM to see how we can assist.