Employee engagement is an important part of any business. Without the support of your employees it is impossible to grow a business and sustain success over a long period of time. Sure, you can build a company without interacting well with your employees and showing them that you care about them, but in the end these types of companies are always prone to suffer from high employee turnover. The best companies are those that provide a clear route to management for all staff members, and a succession plan that allows for honest channels of communication and a happy workforce.
If you work in a company where you are finding it difficult to interact constructively with your employees, there are ways in which you can look to improve the situation. For many workplaces there will be times where there is a requirement for brainstorming sessions, where staff members are asked to come up with new ideas, or to work through logistical challenges and project pain points to push things forward. If you are stuck with a group of staff who are unwilling, or uncomfortable in putting forward ideas, you will have a long-term problem.
There are various reasons why a person might feel uncomfortable in putting forward their personal ideas in a workplace setting. It could be that they have suffered personal humiliation in a similar setting in the past. We all know what it feels like to be put in that type of uncomfortable situation, where our words are drowned out, ignored, or at worst, laughed at. Other reasons could be that they are used to working with management that have not welcomed constructive and honest feedback from employees.
The benefits of honest employee feedback and clear lines of communication are well known. It can help to foster a feeling of togetherness between all employees, and help to invigorate workplaces that might have become stale and reached a plateau of performance. In these situations, it is time to think about fresh ideas.
The first thing to do is to create some level of anonymity in the first instance. Put together cards that can be written on anonymously with suggestions for new projects, or feedback as to how the workplace currently functions. This has to come from an honest place, with management able to handle criticism and to actually put in pace new actions based on those suggestions (if they are viable).
As soon as employees understand that their thoughts have been listened to, and that some suggestions have been taken on board, it promotes confidence and demonstrates that they are genuinely valued by the company.
Another route to engage better with employees and help them feed into the way in which a company is run, is to talk in smaller groups, or private one-on-one sessions, where shy people might feel more confident in speaking, rather than in front of large numbers of people.