In Employee Engagement, Relationships Matter|In Employee Engagement, Relationships Matter
Employee Engagement

In Employee Engagement, Relationships Matter

Employee engagement” is a hot buzzword these days. It refers to employees who are more than just “satisfied” with their jobs—they are energized, excited and passionate about their jobs and the company they work for. Engaged employees go above and beyond the bare minimum, driven by truly caring about their work.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? So how can you improve employee engagement at your small business? Many factors, including compensation, opportunities to advance and on-the-job career development, contribute to employee engagement. However, one of the most important factors is also one of the easiest to overlook: strong personal relationships at work.

In the SHRM’s annual 2014 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey, the relationship an employee has with his or her immediate supervisor is the second most-important contributor to employee engagement (after compensation). The importance of personal relationships in enhancing employee engagement is also clear when you look at the questions The Gallup Organization asks in its annual surveys about the topic. Respondents are asked to say Yes or No to questions including:

  • In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  • I have a best friend at work.
  • My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  • In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  • There is someone at work who encourages my development.

The good news: 70 percent of employees in the SHRM survey are satisfied with their relationships with their supervisors. But what about those who aren’t? Even if compensation is generous and opportunities for advancement exist, employees who are unhappy with their supervisors are highly unlikely to feel engaged, and more likely to leave for greener pastures.

If you want to increase employee engagement in your small business, try these tactics for building strong, supportive relationships:

  • Consider “people skills” as much as, or more than, other skills when promoting or hiring supervisers.
  • Provide feedback and coaching on supervisors’ people skills, such as listening ability, emotional intelligence and tact, on an ongoing basis—not just at review time.
  • Be aware of what’s going on in your workplace. When conflicts arise between employees, ensure action is taken to make all parties feel heard and resolve the situation.
  • Remember, you’re the ultimate “supervisor” in your business. You don’t need to—and shouldn’t—be best buddies with your employees, but you should set the tone by treating all employees with compassion, respect and fairness.

Finally, don’t forget to check your reviews on Glassdoor to gauge employee sentiment. Sign up for a Free Employer Account to make sure you’re responding to reviews and adding the employer voice.