Extensive studies have shown that companies with high levels of employee engagement are associated with higher rates of profitability growth. Furthermore, investing in and nurturing employees produces more loyal staff and increased employee performance.

How weak or strong a company’s engagement is with its people typically comes down to an individual leader’s ability.

So as we continue to navigate business in this grey area of physical distancing, a preference to work from home, and the pandemic’s ongoing effect on the local economy, team engagement becomes more important than ever.

Here are key tips for how leaders can develop and implement robust team engagement in 2021.

Truly listen

All great leaders have genuine care for their team. This comes from a place of wanting to serve their people, rather than the belief of having followers who serve them. A critical skill to develop and be aware of is listening.

True leaders especially have the skill of listening to each team member’s views and opinions, while knowing the right time to encourage and provide feedback – this, in turn, shows the team’s contributions are valued.

It can be difficult to truly listen to what somebody is saying to you, especially during busier days or periods. But having the ability to stop, focus on the moment and concentrate on your team member’s concerns will result in real loyalty and respect.

Cultivate a shared vision

A good leader has the ability to attract like-minded teams so that they can create a cohesive and integrated work environment together. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to be the same or that there won’t be disagreements – what’s key for great leaders is driving the shared vision for the business and ensuring that all team members subscribe to the same mission and end goal.

How you end up there can happen through several different means that come as ideas from your people, the important thing is that they shared this same vision of success. This not only produces more engagement and achievements but ultimately supports the business’s initiatives and bottom line.

Genuinely develop your team’s skills

According to a Page Personnel Australia Salary Guide survey, respondents revealed both gen X and millennials would have stayed in their last job if employee engagement was strengthened, and if training and development plans were scheduled.

A good leader inspires skill in others and therefore, training and development to improve each team member’s skills is critical and should be offered no matter what experience level or length of time they’ve been with the business. And in the current climate of WFH, you can still run training virtually or online via video call platforms such as Skype, MS Teams, Zoom and Google Hangouts, just to name a few.

In order to rollout training, you will have to find your own way and style, plus adapt this to what will work best for your team. You may want to encourage them to really get to know themselves through 360-degree feedback, and then follow up with a focus on their strengths. It also has the added benefit of employees truly being able to be the best possible version of themselves, and in turn, feel like there’s a genuine attempt at engagement by the business.

It’s important to note that training and development aren’t about enrolling team members into expensive external courses. Training and upskilling can start from within. This might look like booking in a 1-2 hour individual training session per month where your people are able to choose what they want to discuss each time. Alternatively, it can be more focused and be structured like a mentoring relationship, where you’re able to pass on your best advice, tips and skills.

Find purpose

When people believe they are doing meaningful and valuable work, that’s when they experience genuine motivation.

A great leader knows how to find purpose and meaning to their team’s work. But how do you achieve this? This again, comes from the idea that leaders serve their people.

So in order to do that, you should know your team well both on a professional and personal level. And instead of making assumptions, you should be asking questions to help your people find their purpose, such as:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What matters to you?
  • What do you stand for?
  • What do you want to be remembered for?
  • What aspects of your life would you keep if you had to give up everything else?

Finding your purpose as a leader is equally important, as it’s about who you are and what makes you uniquely distinctive.

No matter the work situation – whether it’s physically sharing a workplace or if working remotely due to what the world looks like currently – bosses and managers have the means to demonstrate their leadership to their teams. It’s a matter of caring for your people and implementing the advice above to then get the best out of them.

RELATED: 5 ways you're killing employee engagement

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