Increasing employee engagement without increasing pay

Sought-after employers know it takes more than money to attract and keep great employees. Starting with the day you hire them, employee engagement is the key to a long and fruitful relationship. For most people, job satisfaction comes not so much from financial rewards as from other sources.

So if it isn’t money that fuels engagement, what can you do? Treat people with respect. Make sure they know they’re part of the “solution,” not just another cog in the corporate wheel. And remember that people don’t live to work, they work to have a better lifestyle.


Set the tone.

If you aren’t actively engaged with your people, you can’t expect them to be actively engaged themselves. Managerial closed-door policies and overly hierarchical internal structures tend to tell employees they aren’t “important enough” to engage with higher-ups.

Make an overt effort to talk with people, even for a few minutes. Talk about their work, listen to possible concerns, solicit suggestions, chat about their family or hobbies. Be approachable.


Lighten up.

Many jobs are inherently stressful. Busy as everyone is, it’s important to carve out time periodically to laugh, be silly or just take a break.


Get personal.

Effective collaboration is built on trust and desire to work together. That starts with thinking of one another as whole people, not just the guy in the next cubicle. Foster a sense of family, and you’ll be way ahead when it comes to engagement.

Do things together, as a department or the entire company:

  • Celebrate birthdays with cake and balloons.
  • Go to a ball game together.
  • Volunteer for a local charity or community project. Volunteering shows employees your company cares about being a good neighbor and gives everyone who participates a chance to feel good about themselves.
  • Sponsor a food drive – make it a competition and reward the top-producing team with a day off, lunch at their favorite restaurant or an after-work round of beers at their favorite hangout.


Buff up your physical surroundings.

A pleasant atmosphere includes not only people you like working with, but appealing work space. Natural light is a proven mood-booster. If windows are in short supply, use lighting that mimics the color of sunlight. Add a few potted plants. Encourage employees to decorate their spaces, or paint a wall in their office.


Make sure everyone has the tools they need.

That includes everything from office supplies to a comfortable chair. It’s hard to get excited about your work when every little thing is frustrating. Provide plenty of training opportunities for both job-related and personal development.


Don’t forget to say thanks.

Reward work well done with an extra hour (or day) off. Randomly send the entire team home at noon on Friday. Unless they’re working in front of a conveyor belt, their work will be there for them Monday morning.

A simple thank-you is the easiest – and one of the most potent – ways to motivate employee engagement. Studies have proven that people who feel appreciated are happier on the job and, therefore, more productive. Showing appreciation builds trust, and when you thank someone for a job well done in front of others, it can boost everyone’s morale. Maybe they’ll be next!


Be flexible.

Employees who are juggling personal challenges surrounding children, elders, etc. are under a lot of stress. Cut them some slack when it comes to work schedules. Let them work from home. In fact, scheduling flexibility can boost anyone’s engagement.


Hire the right people.

Ultimately, folks who fit in with your company’s culture can do more for your bottom line than individuals who are skilled on paper but who aren’t ever going to engage meaningfully with the rest of your team.

No one is likely to turn down a pay raise. But concentrating on other ways to engage your employees can take your company farther, sooner. Besides, you’ll have more fun getting there.

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