Unfortunately for small businesses owners and managers, Dale Carnegie research has found that employees at larger corporations, on the whole, are more engaged than employees at smaller organizations. The good news is that there are tried and true ways to make your small teams engaged in a big way. Here are 6 things to implement today:
It may seem unnecessary to plan a formal orientation process for a small business, but the employee engagement strategy starts from the beginning, and putting a solid welcome structure in place can help. Dale Carnegie trainers suggest sending an agenda to your new hire prior to their first day so they’ll know what to expect, making sure their work area is ready for them to get started immediately, and urging co-workers to say “hello” to the new employee. These three small things can plant the seedlings of engagement.
Dale Carnegie research shows that 53 percent of fully engaged employees say their supervisor teaches them a lot. Only 19% of those who aren’t fully engaged say the same. The first direct manager a new employee has is crucial, so assign that person with care. A lazy supervisor could cost your small company dearly in terms of a lost hire. Sixty-nine percent of disengaged employees said they’d jump ship for a mere 5% pay increase, whereas more invested employees say it would take a 20% bump.
Small business often can’t compete with bigger salaries and promotions offered by larger firms, but the flexibility that goes along with working for a small business can make up for that, says management consultant Carl Gould, author of “The 7 Stages of Small Business Success.” “Offer flexible times for the employee to come and go (as long as their work gets completed) to mold around their commitments with their children, workout schedule, or any other hobbies that they might have,” suggests Gould.
Dale Carnegie has found that middle-aged employees are often less engaged than their peers. One particular area baby boomers may feel threatened (and as a result, less engaged) is in technology/new media. Younger people learn it in school and by socializing online, and older employees may not have had an opportunity to pick it up even if they’re interested. And don’t forget to explain the reason for this new technology, so people aren’t threatened by changing systems. “Directly show how efforts lead to enhanced output, and illustrate the incentives to be enjoyed by embracing new approaches,” suggests leadership consultant Scott Steinberg.
Dale Carnegie trainers call this “walking the talk.” In other words, be enthusiastic and engaged and your staff will mirror that behavior. Show not only your dedication to your job, but also your employees and what matters to them. “Find out what the employees are passionate about, and show them how working in the company feeds that passion. Is there is a cause that the company supports? Are the company and its’ employees active in the community?” says Gould.
One of the benefits of working for a small company is being a bigger fish in a smaller pond. If employees feel like a cog in a wheel at a small business, they may wonder why they aren’t at a larger company with more opportunities. Dale Carnegie trainers urge their students to explain to their employees how their contributions are part of a company’s success, and in particular, how their individual roles impact the outcome. Make sure to hit on these points with each employee during review time. If you can also do this at regular monthly meetings with each team or department, that would be even more beneficial.
Try these six tips, and hopefully you’ll nurture large scale engagement within your small business. To learn even more about Dale Carnegie’s employee engagement strategy, browse our online course offering!
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