How to Keep Your Workforce Engaged – Really!

How to Keep Your Workforce Engaged – Really!

How do you keep your employees engaged while working remotely or remotely working (as in the slightest degree of)?

With so many distractions facing your workforce, and without direct oversight of your employees, you probably ask yourself…

am I really getting this employee’s time, attention and/or best work?

It’s natural to question, especially when you’re not even in contact with your employees for blocks of time each day. 

Yes, as a great manager, which you likely are, you are supposed to delegate and then trust that your employees will get the work done.

You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. However you approach it, you are seen as a micromanager, a non-believer, or someone who is not acting as a manager should.

So what do you do? How do you get your employees to stay engaged?

You give them a reason to be.

Here are some ways that can help. Strategies I have used and recommended to clients. Give one or more of them a try and let me know the result.

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1. FUN

Fun is very important when it comes to work. I know it sounds contradictory, but fun equates to freedom, and we all want freedom.

If we’re not having fun, then we are only working. And soon, work becomes just work and we find ourselves seeking out those distractions just so we don’t have to work anymore. 

Everyone loves fun. Why shouldn’t we? We had fun as kids, right? 

I give a talk/workshop (more online to companies now), called TGIM. I bet you can figure out what that stands for.

The goal of the talk is to help companies learn how to work with the many generations in their workforce in a collaborative, cooperative, productive, and enjoyable manner. That’s even harder when everyone is working from home. The key? FUN.

Here’s a small excerpt from my talk. I omitted all the studies and stories to give you the essence.

…I’d like to talk to you about a different perspective of how we Boomers grew up. Boomers grew up playing a lot – outside – UNSUPERVISED. We didn’t come in until mom rang the bell.

We played well-known games and made-up games. We created the rules and we let anyone join in. Even the odd kid in the neighborhood. All kids are awkward at some point so who cares? We didn’t. Whoever showed up got to play. We played lots of fun games, like Hide n’ Go Seek, Sardines, Hopscotch, and Wireball. Operator was fun; it’s how we learned to gossip and tell secrets. Spin the Bottle was a great one once our hormones began to rage. 

The whole idea of unsupervised play was that we experienced FREEDOM, and we didn’t come in until mom rang the bell.

Now some families had horns. Some had moms with loud voices or ear-piercing gongs. We all knew our sound and when we heard it we darted home for dinner because family dinner time was important. Homework, not so much.

So, what were the skills we learned during all of this unsupervised freedom?

When we had the time to be creative, we discovered our passions. We took the time to lay in the grass and look at the clouds and say, what is that? Let’s tell a story. I think that’s a dragon with a giant ladybug on his back and they are on an adventure to a land where the water is filled with candy and happiness. That kid went on to work in the gaming industry.

When we played, we learned how to work as a team. If you’re playing Sardines and someone’s hiding, you have to find a way to hide with them. Be as quiet as you can while someone else is trying to find you to hide with you too. The last one to hide loses. So you’re learning how to work as a team. We learned how to organize. Who’s in charge, who’s on which team, what are the rules?

We learned how to compete too. Everyone wanted to win whatever game we played. When we played King of the Hill, we’d try to push everyone else off the grassy knoll so that we were the last one standing. Or with Hide n’ Go Seek we learned how to take calculated risks as to when we decided to run to the base so that we weren’t caught by IT. To me Hide n’ Go Seek is a little bit like the movie Hunger Games, you just don’t kill each other. We just wanted to get to base and not get tagged out. And so we learned calculated risks, how to pay attention to our senses and how to just go for it. Sometimes by not being fully prepared and simply jumping in, we learn the most about life. A lot of the jobs we jump into, we’re not fully prepared. Like my first TV job…

But then it was time to grow up. Many of our silent generation parents told us it was time to get RESPONSIBLE. So we put away our childish freedom ways and we got responsible.

And how did all these skills we learned as kids during our playtime enter into our work style? We became productive, hardworking, and very competitive. We became achievement-oriented. We worked (and still do) as team players and we like to mentor…

When we started having our own kids, we changed the cycle. The cycle that has turned the GENx and Millennial Generations into societal perceptions they don’t deserve.

And guess who caused that label? 

More on that later…

I have many fun games that I play with corporate client teams. Games that are fun, but also productive. Games that teach leadership, creativity, collaboration and a team approach to success. We do these on Zoom lately, but they are still very productive. If you would like to learn more, feel free to reach out to me directly: jody@jodybmiller.com

2. ASK

Your employees are the soul of your enterprise. From the person who answers the phone to the top dog. Every person plays a part.

So doesn’t it make sense to ASK them how they are doing? If they’re happy? Are they being challenged?

When someone feels that they matter, they naturally perform better because they feel appreciated. They work harder, longer and truly desire to deliver the best work they can. And they are happy doing it. So ASK how your employees are doing.

You can use some of our neuro-science-backed surveys, or you can make up your own. Either way, ASK.

Here are some questions you can ask your employees to gauge their engagement.

A. What do you love the most about your job? What would you change? Do you feel that you are in the best role for you?

B. Do you think you are being paid fairly? If not, why not? How would you change the payout structure for your position? How would you add incentives?

C. Are you interested in learning more about the company? Other roles? Outside education? What interests you most and what would you like to learn about?

D. What is the best part of communicating with your colleagues? Are there ways to improve communication? How do you feel about meetings?

E. If this was your company, what would you emphasize? What would you do differently?

I love reading Brian Tracy’s books. One of his famous pieces of advice for success (and he has many!) is to treat your job as though you own the company. If you did, how would you run it? How would you contribute? How would you help grow the enterprise? When you think about it, regardless if you work for someone else or for your own business, we are all self-employed. We are all responsible for our own productivity, engagement, and success. So why not look at your role as one that really matters to running the company? I do this with every client and with my own company. It’s a game-changer.

3.TEACH

Take the time to teach your workforce, your team, your division, your company, about the company. About processes and goals and direction. About anything that will help them feel more connected and part of a grander plan than their small part. Which isn’t small at all.

4. CONNECT

Connect regularly with your employees. If you want to learn specific ways to do that, feel free to reach back to me directly: jody@jodybmiller.com.

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