MT asked Jack Wiley of Kenexa, author of the research and an expert in employee engagement, for his top tips on how managers can achieve this goal:
1. Understand what constitutes ‘exciting work’. There are six factors that contribute to how exciting a job is. They are: the nature of work itself and the sense of personal accomplishment it provides; confidence in the organisation’s future, coupled with the sense of a personal promising future; recognition; the opportunity for growth and development; participation in decision making and a feeling that the employee is part of a team.
2. Take responsibility. As a manager, you’re responsible for your team’s work. If you can find ways to help them make their work more exciting, you can play a significant role in enhancing their engagement. Even if you can’t change the exact nature of their work, you can certainly influence their job satisfaction.
3. Give employees what they want. People want exciting work and they’ll join an employer who can provide it. Employees are three to four times more likely to stay with your organisation if they feel their work is exciting. The flipside, of course, is that employees will leave if they feel their jobs are dull.
4. Put square pegs in square holes. Make sure the people who fill new or vacant roles fit in by using job profiles and assessments. When the right person is recruited, he or she is more likely to find the work exciting.
5. Get off on the right foot. The first few weeks are crucial for a new employee. When new people join your team, you have a golden opportunity to create a lasting first impression by helping them to settle in, socialise, feel accepted and become effective.
6. Empower employees and give them ‘stretch assignments’. Give your team members the autonomy, authority and encouragement to use their skills and to do their jobs in their own way. Ensure they have stimulating challenges, an opportunity to add value and scope to grow.
7. Find out what employees think. You can’t engage your employees if you don’t know what they want, so conduct regular training needs assessments, create personal development plans and hold career discussions as often as possible.
8. Make sure you give proper feedback. Recognise and celebrate the achievements of individuals and look for opportunities to provide feedback and acknowledge their contribution. Performance management is an important way of finding out what motivates each individual, what matters to them and how they feel about their role, the organisation and their work-life balance.
9. Try to maintain a positive environment. Challenge unhelpful attitudes within the team, and try to stay authentic and sincere in your own words and actions.
10. Build the business case for exciting work. There are altruistic reasons why managers should look after the welfare of their teams, but there’s also a strong business case for exciting work. It can increase employee retention and reduce absenteeism, which translates into lower recruitment costs and less disruption to the team caused by staff leaving. By enhancing employee engagement, exciting work can also lead to greater commitment, improved performance and a better service being delivered for customers.
Dr Jack Wiley is executive director of the Kenexa Research Institute, part of Kenexa, the global provider of business solutions for human resources. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or via www.kenexa.com.