By: Zahra Dattu
Employee engagement is a hot topic among corporate human resources experts and teams. With some studies showing as many as 60 per cent of employees not being engaged (particularly unsupported, detached, disengaged) in their jobs, this is not a surprise. But how can small- and medium-sized businesses take steps to ensure their employees are engaged?
Every business owner is familiar with the concept of setting goals. Many business owners choose to aim high when setting their goals and measure their progress regularly to stay on track. By taking the same approach with employees, small- and medium-sized businesses can motivate and engage staff simultaneously with improving performance and productivity.
Although many in the working world dread the phrase “annual performance review,” if approached thoughtfully, it can offer real benefits to both employer and employee. Setting goals helps employees understand what is important to their employer and what is expected of them. It also provides direction on what an employee can do to advance their career.
Care must be taken to ensure the exercise is about the results and not just the process. Here are some tips to make goal setting a worthwhile experience for employers and their employees:
- Focus on goals that are specific to your company’s objectives and helps employees develop career skills.
- Make sure you involve your employees in the goal-setting for your business. By involving employees in the process for setting company goals, they will feel greater ownership and accountability.
- Regularly review progress against goals and discuss business objectives, the employee’s role in achieving these objectives, as well as career development opportunities. By checking in with your employees on a regular basis, you have the opportunity to help them stay on track and they have the opportunity to ask questions, request feedback or get assistance. Nothing demoralizes an employee more than being surprised with unexpected critiques, when they have been hard at work all year – but on the wrong things.
- Write down the goals you and your employees set. This makes it clear what will be measured.
- Get specific on what success or achievement of a goal means and in what timeframe you want to achieve the results. Looking to increase your sales by five per cent over a certain period? Or want to decrease your delivery time by one day by next quarter? This clearly indicates the employees’ collective goals and timing in alignment with what the business wants to achieve. The more tangible and measurable the goal, the easier it is for everyone to know how they are progressing. This is crucial – specifics on timing and measurement helps keeps people focused even during the busyness of day-to-day of work.
- Make sure your goals are achievable by taking resources and workloads into consideration. Do not demoralize your team by asking for things that are not realistic or reasonable. Lofty goals (sometimes called stretch goals) are good – but make sure they are possible.
- Discuss goals regularly. Receiving negative feedback during a performance review because the manager did not take the time to discuss the employees progress with goals is discouraging and a sure way to disengage employees.
Setting goals, measuring progress regularly and discussing progress toward achieving those goals can help businesses achieve more and sets employees on a clear path to success and greater productivity. The time and thought invested in a clear process to set and measure goals will help businesses and their employees become more productive and achieve more together.
Zahra Dattu is leading small business product marketing at ADP Canada.