Connecting with your employees will help them feel engaged at work. And the more engaged they are, the more likely they are to stay long-term. Since hiring and training are costly, and employee turnover can hurt productivity, it only makes sense to try to hold onto as many good employees as possible. Here are some ways you can establish a connection with them.
Make Them Feel Heard
Everyone wants to feel valued, and your employees are your eyes and ears on the ground. Establish communication channels for them to make their voices heard. Also, work with senior management to plan occasional skip-level meetings, letting employees take their feedback straight to the top. Be careful not to criticize or penalize team members for their thoughts and feelings, and take all feedback under close consideration.
Honesty and openness are key to any successful relationship, including business connections. Share what’s coming down the line, both with product releases and business developments. Tell your employees the bad and the good, and keep them in the loop on how the company is handling challenges. When something positive happens, celebrate it companywide. After all, your successes wouldn’t have happened without your team.
Utilize Praise and Rewards
Psychology continuously shows that positive reinforcement is much more effective than punishment. Sometimes you’ll have to point out employee errors, but strive to give out more compliments than critiques. Even a quick “thank you” email after an employee goes above and beyond can go a long way toward showing your appreciation.
Even better, find a way to give public praise whenever possible. Whether you choose an employee of the month or ask team members to recognize their coworkers at the start of each meeting, praising employees in front of others can help them feel more engaged. Also, consider implementing small rewards, such as an extra break or a gift card to a local restaurant, for a job well done.
Connect on a Human Level
While it’s true that you shouldn’t slam beers at the bar with your subordinates, making personal connections shows that you value your team members as humans, not just employees. Learn about their hobbies and interests, plan occasional offsite teambuilding trips to local attractions, restaurants, or even a ziplining trip, and consider organizing a company softball team or other optional after work activity. These efforts will also help your employees connect with each other, ultimately creating a stronger team.
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