Employee engagement is vital to business longevity and success. According to analytics and advisory company Gallup, highly engaged employees tend to:

  • Produce substantially better outcomes at work
  • Deliver better service to customers and help attract new ones
  • Remain with their organization longer than their less-engaged colleagues
  • Experience less burnout in their roles

Despite these benefits, just 35 percent of professionals in the US report feeling enthusiastic about their job and committed to their organization.

What’s more, disengaged employees can severely impact a company’s bottom line, costing an estimated $450-550 billion each year.

Managers have been found to account for 70 percent of variance in employee engagement, highlighting how critical it is for companies to ensure that those in charge of guiding teams and departments are equipped with the skills and knowledge to bring out the best in themselves and others.

If you want to maximize your team’s performance and become a better manager, here are six strategies for engaging your employees and helping your organization reach its objectives and goals.

How to Engage Your Employees

1. Base Feedback on Observations

Knowing how to provide feedback effectively is a critical skill for all managers. It’s been found that an environment wherein managers regularly evaluate their employees’ work can be a boon to business performance. In a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management and Globoforce, 89 percent of HR professionals said that ongoing peer feedback and check-ins are key to successful outcomes.

When delivering feedback, make it a point to observe others as they complete their daily tasks, so your comments are based on facts, rather than personal impressions or feelings.

In a video for the online course Management Essentials, Meghan Joyce, who previously worked at Uber and is now COO at Oscar Health, says gathering observations by sitting in on meetings or simply wandering around the office can be deeply telling.

“Observing them in their own environment can be so insightful,” Joyce says. “I’ve found that some of the smallest tweaks we’ve been able to make by observing those people in action are some of the most meaningful.”

2. Show Recognition

Assuring your employees that their work and opinions are important is essential to enabling your team to perform at its optimal level. According to cloud-based software company Salesforce, professionals who believe their voice is heard are over four times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work.

When considering solutions to key business challenges, encourage your employees to participate in the decision-making process, and give equal consideration to each person’s point-of-view, so they feel their ideas are valued.

Following the successful execution of an important project or initiative, offer praise to your team and underscore how much you appreciate their contributions. Research by Glassdoor shows doing so can not only boost motivation but employee retention.

Related: 7 Ways to Empower Your Employees

3. Foster Transparent Communication

Effective communication is foundational to fostering strong team dynamics and collaboration. In a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, it was found that poor communication in the workplace can yield a range of negative outcomes, including:

  • A delay or failure to complete projects
  • Low morale
  • Missed performance goals
  • Lost sales

To help your organization avoid these pitfalls, cultivate a culture centered on open and transparent communication. If you find yourself tasked with leading employees through a complex business situation, like organizational change, clearly explain the reasoning behind why change is needed and establish a regular cadence to keep everyone apprised of progress. Note how each person’s role contributes to larger organizational objectives and can help drive the change process. In addition, emphasize your willingness to discuss any questions or concerns so your employees feel they have someone to approach and confide in as shifts happen.

Related: Organizational Change Management: What It Is & Why It’s Important

4. Delegate Work

Delegating important tasks and projects to your team is a highly useful means of demonstrating trust and empowering your employees.

To delegate effectively, ensure you’re assigning tasks to employees who are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and resources to handle them, or who stand to gain a valuable learning experience by taking on additional responsibilities.

Be sure to play to your team members’ strengths when entrusting them with work. Studies show that when employees know and flex their strengths, they’re more engaged, perform better, and are less likely to leave their company.

5. Be Respectful

Treating others with respect is paramount to being a successful manager. According to a report by The Energy Project and Harvard Business Review, respect has a bigger impact on employees’ sense of safety, trust, and ability to focus than any other leadership behavior.

The report also found that employees who felt their leaders treated them with respect were:

  • 63 percent more satisfied with their jobs
  • 55 percent more engaged
  • 58 percent more focused
  • 110 percent more likely to stay with their organization

Being respectful involves honing your emotional intelligence and building social awareness, so that you can be more empathetic and attuned to others’ feelings and perspectives. It also requires having faith in your team members and not micromanaging their every move, so they feel confident in their abilities and motivated to perform their best work.

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6. Support Learning and Development

Encouraging your employees to bolster their skills and knowledge through professional development and learning opportunities can pay dividends for both your team and company.

In a recent survey conducted by City Square Associates, eight out of 10 Harvard Business School Online learners said taking an online course impacted their professional lives for the better, and more than half of respondents said they gained additional responsibilities at work as a result of furthering their education.

“Learning is essential to survive and prosper both inside and outside businesses,” says HBS Professor David Garvin in the online course Management Essentials. “That means organizations and their managers must engage in the learning process at formal and informal levels.”

Let your team members know that you support their ongoing development, and serve as an advocate when they approach you with an interest in pursuing additional education while balancing the demands of a full-time job.

Focus on your own development too, and seek out management training programs that can help you reach your personal and professional goals.

Driving Engagement at Your Organization

Cultivating a culture of highly engaged employees is critical to business success. By treating your employees with respect, delivering feedback, and supporting their ongoing development, you can not only improve as a manager, but help your team and organization thrive.

Do you want to elevate your management skills with best-in-class tools and frameworks? Explore our eight-week online course Management Essentials, and learn how you can design, direct, and shape organizational processes to your advantage.

Matt Gavin

About the Author

Matt Gavin is a member of the marketing team at Harvard Business School Online. Prior to returning to his home state of Massachusetts and joining HBS Online, he lived in North Carolina, where he held roles in news and content marketing. He has a background in video production and previously worked on several documentary films for Boston’s PBS station, WGBH. In his spare time, he enjoys running, exploring New England, and spending time with his family.