Triggered by the pandemic, the worldwide job market is ever-changing and still reshuffling, with no signs of slowing down.
With 44% of US and a fifth of UK employees ready to leave their jobs in search of better pay or job satisfaction, the statistics are, to put it mildly, quite alarming.
The numbers are a wake-up call for the leaders who are willing to listen to the signs and re-engage in their most prominent role: motivating, inspiring, and leading employees. So, today, we’ll discuss how leadership affects employee engagement, and what company leaders can do to retain their staff even when times are tough and uncertain.
Listen and Adapt to Employees’ Needs
With the worst of the pandemic hopefully behind us, leaders are again trying to regain control in the workplace. More often than not, they demand compliance and conformity with their outdated beliefs and assumptions, relying on traditional rather than creative solutions.
One of the most difficult battles being fought today is in the field of remote and hybrid work.
Employees find it exceptionally hard, and not to mention unnecessary, to return to their offices just to finish the tasks they now know they can successfully handle elsewhere.
On the other side, it’s challenging for leaders to let go of their sense of control when their staff regularly show up at the office for their traditional nine-to-five schedule.
So, what do employees do?
They disengage and finally leave companies with a dominant leadership style with a strict need for control. They move on to find employment with leaders who understand and value them and their wellbeing as much as their work.
While employee engagement may seem quite elusive, it is built on trust between employees and their leaders. Instead of micromanaging and controlling, leaders should learn to listen to their employees’ needs and meet those needs for better engagement.
Everything a leader does — every decision they make, message they send, or action they take, impacts the employee experience. And that means that the leader’s actions consequently impact engagement, productivity, and satisfaction.
If your leadership skills leave much to be desired, so will your team’s work and efforts.
That’s why you must ensure you authentically understand your leading role before you can get your employees enthusiastic about their job.
This means getting in touch with the actual work your team members perform — the workflow and the processes. Plus, it’s crucial to be familiar with all the challenges and frustrations your employees face.
Investing in leadership training to empower yourself is always a good idea.
Still, you can learn a lot less formally too by following exceptional leaders on social media and following their advice.
By signing up for newsletters for entrepreneurs, you can keep up to date with current trends and shape your next moves while getting valuable ideas on how to inspire and motivate your staff.
We Instead of I
Without employees following you, your leadership doesn’t mean a lot.
Recent studies confirm that the key to efficiently engaging them lies in the collective “we” rather than individual “I.”
Leaders whose behaviours indicate they share the team’s values and experiences – and who have the best interests of the group at heart rather than their own – are more effective in fulfilling their role.
Instead of insisting on your natural-born leadership skills, let the words of famous Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu guide you: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists; when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”
Nurturing your relationship with your employees and perceiving them as people with whom you share a mission makes all the difference when it comes to their engagement. Creating a culture of mutual respect goes a long way, and empowers your members to become the best version of themselves at work.
Highlight the Purpose
To be engaged, employees need to see the purpose of their work. Even more so now, since post pandemic their values and priorities have changed.
A capable leader knows how to connect the dots and help their employees find meaning in their jobs.
And if they are successful in connecting the purpose to something greater than company profit, they can even convey their passion to others.
The key lies in becoming a leader who knows how to motivate their staff by linking key performance indicators of each position to the overall KPIs and business objectives.
When employees know how performing their daily tasks affect the overall outcomes and shared purpose, they are more engaged with what they do.
The post-pandemic labour trends, characterised by an increase in the global attrition rate, are urging leaders to re-evaluate their role in engaging effectively with their employees. Reclaiming and redefining leadership is a challenging step to take, and it calls for more flexible, creative, and participatory solutions.
Author: Sarah Kaminski – freelance writer and social media marketer