MT Expert's Ten Top Tips: How to improve employee confidence

UK employee confidence has been on the wane lately. But there are ways you can boost it...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

It was never a problem for Swiss Toni, The Fast Show's cocksure car dealer. But, according to a quarterly study by the Kenexa Research Institute, UK employee confidence is dropping - by 8.8% since December, to be precise.

Kenexa's index measures the degree of faith employees have in their employers' marketplace and competitiveness, as well as their own careers. Confidence is high when employees believe their organisation is effectively managed and competitively positioned; and that they themselves have a promising career path, job security and the opportunity to develop skills that are attractive to other employers.

Since higher confidence has been linked to better business outcomes, MT asked Anne Herman of the Kenexa Research Institute what organisations and leaders can do to build it.

1. Be honest about job security
Openly communicate about the realities facing the organisation, the options available and your chosen strategy. Identify employee concerns and try to rectify any insecurity that is based on unfounded fears.

2. Prioritise quality and improvement
Focus on operational efficiency but don't sacrifice anything that would jeopardise the organisation's high quality standards. Identify the goals and practices that compete against the quality standards and develop solutions to resolve those conflicts.

3. Convince employees that they can achieve their career goals at the organisation
Look for opportunities to align employees with work that develops the skills, abilities, and experiences they need to be successful. Discuss internal role possibilities and help employees understand what development opportunities exist.

4. Recognise employees for excellent customer service
Regularly recognise employees for their positive interactions with customers and where possible integrate customer feedback. In addition to this habitual recognition, initiate a formal award. The award should be presented to the person who has best exemplified excellence in customer service.

5. Demonstrate that senior managers are capable of dealing with challenges
Hold regular informational sessions; invite senior leaders to answer questions and discuss relevant company issues. Solicit topics and enquiries from employees and announce the topics that will be covered in advance.

6. Show support for work-life balance
Build employees' experiences and feelings of competence while allowing for work-life balance. Confident employees feel good about being able to meet career goals and still devote sufficient attention to family/personal life. Identify the flexible work options that would be most beneficial to them (such as a compressed working week).

7. Give employees work that they'll find exciting
Employees want to have a feeling of personal accomplishment while doing work they enjoy. Their work should leverage their skills and abilities. Where possible, allow them to work toward career goals and provide opportunities for them to expand their skills and to try new things in their job.

8. Foster an environment where employees are motivated to work hard and put forth extra effort
Identify what hinders employees from being more passionate about getting the job done (eg, lacking power to make decisions). Develop plans for removing obstacles and share them with the workgroup.

9. Ensure that the organisation's corporate responsibility efforts aid employee satisfaction
An organisation's commitment to be socially responsible must be genuine. Organisations need to contribute to the communities where they operate and where employees live. A focus on environmentally friendly operations needs to occur as well. Generate a discussion with your employees on your organisation's corporate responsibility efforts. Instigate changes to overcome any areas of dissatisfaction.

10. Provide opportunities for growth and development
Discuss development during team meetings, and identify the knowledge, skills and abilities that are most critical. Identify development gaps between employees' current and desired skills. Provide suggestions, ideas and coaching on how to fill those gaps.

Anne Herman is director and research consultant at the Kenexa Research Institute, a division of Kenexa, the global provider of business solutions for human resources. As usual, if you have any more to add, please do so below.

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