1959356_682851381772010_619072976_nDespite the reports of economic green shoots, it’s been a long, hard slog through the slump,energy levels can be low and there are distractions aplenty at this time of year.

It’s difficult preparing for the upturn when the tanks of goodwill are on empty, promises have been broken and the next piece of good news seems some way away. But, as the ancient wisdom goes, the fast track to feeling more positive is to feel more empowered. And to do that, you need to focus on what you can personally influence and regardless of the complexity of the machine, all leaders  have at least some degree of empowerment in the workplace, whether we’re the CEO or a first-line manager.

If the barrage of statistics is to be believed (and it’s not fair just to trust the bad news), companies with high employee engagement levels grow on average 4.5 times faster than those with low levels (Hays 2010).

As I illustrate in Brand Champions, engaged employees are:
R- receptive
I – involved
P –  proactive
E – energised and energising

So, why not try these top tips to promote the engagement drive within your own organisation. Most of them are free:

1. Give recognition
If someone has done well, let them know you know it. A simple thank you goes a long way to increasing engagement, so catch them doing the right thing.

2. Give constructive feedback
Managers giving little or no feedback to their workers fail to engage 98 per cent of them, according to a 2009 study by Gallup. Let employees know how they are doing and what they can do to improve. It’s worth giving your first-line managers in particular training on how to do this.

3. Incentivise good work
Ensure that your HR processes are hard-wired to recognise objectives that are “on brand” and “on strategy”.

4. Create an engaging culture
An open door policy creates an approachable feel to the office, where employees feel comfortable. Ensure management have a physical presence in the office and are role models for your core values.

5. Involve people
Self-managing teams are engagement nirvana. Involving people in company decisions will make them feel part of the organisation and give them a real sense of ownership.

6.Keep people informed
Don’t assume that people don’t know or don’t need to know. They will appreciate being in the loop about any changes in the company. Internal communication must do more than SOS (send out stuff).

7. Encourage suggestions and input
Let them know their opinions count…. chances are the answers to your issues can be solved in-house.

8. Promote role models
Rather than favouring favourites look to unusual suspects for examples of great practice and celebrate them. This will engage more people than you can imagine.

9. Encourage training, development and a career path
Stress the benefits of working for your brand including developing new skills and having a career path in return for development. Relationships count but they need to be nurtured.

10. Focus on their talents
Get to know the “real people” who work for you. Play some games. Find out what talents they have or want to have. Use these when delegating projects to ensure they are using their talents and developing in the right areas.


* A version of this piece first appeared in People Management, the flagship publication of  cipd-logo