3 Ways Strong Leadership Inspires Employee Engagement

Categories: Recruitment Advice, Trends and Learning

Over the past couple of years, employee engagement has been steadily declining.

According to survey data from Gallup, the number of engaged employees dropped from 36% to 32% between 2020 and 2022. And even more worryingly, the number of actively disengaged workers rose from 14% to 17%, which is more than a 20% increase.

But why is this data so worrying?

First and foremost, experience shows that high disengagement rates lead to productivity slumps. Moreover, low engagement can contribute to workplace mistakes and accidents. Plus, workers who aren’t emotionally invested in their jobs are more likely to showcase signs of absenteeism or even quit (yes, the Great Resignation is just a symptom of low employee engagement).

So, looking at all the consequences of working with a disengaged and unmotivated team, it becomes clear that boosting employee engagement should be at the top of your list of priorities. At least if you’re aiming for business success. Fortunately, working on your leadership skills can help.

Great Leaders Help People Feel Seen

One of the most powerful ways leaders can contribute to employee engagement is to actively work towards making their people feel valued.

Just look at the data regarding what young generations want from their jobs. You’ll see that (in addition to a good work-life balance and financial security), Gen Zs and Millennials prioritize:

  • Learning and development opportunities
  • Positive workplace culture (which includes employees feeling valued and having a sense of belonging)
  • A chance to take on a leadership role
  • Meaningful work

Additionally, approximately one-half of people who don’t feel heard at their jobs plan on leaving within a year. Even having a strong online presence is not enough. Once you’ve taken that piece of info into account, it quickly becomes evident that the role of an outstanding leader looking to drive employee engagement is to help their employees feel valued, seen, and heard.

And the great thing is that encouraging employee engagement by focusing on their sense of being valued isn’t rocket science. You can achieve exceptional results by commending a job well done, being open to receiving feedback, and ensuring that you listen to your employees’ wants and needs.

For example, knowing that 58% of people want flexible work, it’s easy to conclude that doing something as simple as allowing your team to work from home one day per week could significantly contribute to a higher engagement rate and, consequently, noticeably better work performance.

Purpose & Passion Breed Motivation

What is it that makes people excited about going to work every day? If you think the answer to this question has anything to do with monetary compensation, you’re probably wrong.

True, financial security is essential for boosting your team’s job satisfaction. However, it’s far from enough when looking to inspire people to take that extra step towards fulfilling your company’s mission.

Instead, as you look for ways to motivate your employees to be more invested in their jobs, you should focus on passion and purpose. (The fact that people are willing to turn down jobs over ESG factors is enough to testify to the importance of these aspects in the workplace).

Try to be vocal about the things that spark joy in you. Conveying your mission isn’t just about

you sharing your vision with the world. It’s just as much about helping your employees see the real-life impact of all their hard work.

So, if you care about delivering first-class customer experiences, take the lead and show your employees how it’s done. Or, if you’re passionate about solving consumer pain points, work with your R&D team to come up with the best possible solutions. If it’s mentoring that inspires you, encourage the managers working at your organization to take colleagues under their wing. And, if you feel like your purpose is to build a business from the ground up, ensure you stay up to date with stories and news related to investing and startups and share the insights with the people working at your company.

Healthy Communication Breeds Trust & a Sense of Belonging

It’s no secret that exceptional leaders know how to convey their thoughts and ideas. And it’s just as well known that a healthy company culture supported by good communication drives teamwork and nurtures job satisfaction.

So, as you explore different strategies that will allow you to inspire employee engagement, why not take a closer look at your style of communication and see whether there’s any room for improvement?

By setting an example—for instance, by not sending emails after work hours or being clear about communicating company goals—you can effectively contribute to better overall company culture in your workplace and ensure a safe environment for your employees.

Or, by being mindful about how you react to employee concerns and ensuring that you always lend an ear and a helping hand, you can actively work towards building trust, which has been proven as the prerequisite for a positive approach to work. So, by ensuring that your company is a safe space for people to explore and communicate their thoughts and feelings, you can actively empower your employees to fully invest themselves in your company’s mission and productively contribute to your organization’s results.

Of course, to properly nurture a healthy organizational culture, you could always take things a step further.

Decide to practice everything you preach—like accepting feedback, working on building trust, aiming for self-improvement, and actively collaborating with team members to solve team issues. That way, you can ensure that every one of your workers feels like they belong in your company, which is enough to significantly increase their likelihood of feeling engaged at work.

Final Thoughts

The thing about being a business leader in 2022 is that you’re in for a bumpy ride. The economy is not looking great. Employees are worried about the future. And with significant shifts in people’s wants and priorities, striking the right balance between leadership and management can be a challenge especially with the mix of newer digital goals.

Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that investing in your leadership skills is worth the effort. After all, if all you achieve is a slightly healthier company culture, you’ll already have made significant gains. But, chances are, that’s not the only way you’ll benefit from improving your leadership style. The likely scenario is that adopting a people-oriented approach will inspire employee engagement, provide a much-needed dose of encouragement and motivation, and boost overall productivity reflected on your company’s bottom line.

Sarah Kaminski