This blog was also published in inc magazine!
As your workforce returns to the office full time, they need a reason to stay engaged. Often, we leave work projects half finished before we head out the door for vacation with family and friends. We may even put them off until we return. Here are some strategies you can use to keep your team focused and encourage them throughout the year.
Offer Continuing Education
This type of an incentive can take on a variety of forms. You can encourage employees and maybe even offer compensation to take classes, workshops or boot camps outside their normal work hours. Employees often are appreciative of a chance to boost their resume and their skill set. Another option would be to have brown bags where employees work together to train each other or bring in an expert in the field to help share some tips of the trade. All these strategies not only increase company and individual knowledge, they let your team know that they are appreciated for their hard work.
Provide Information About Health and Wellness
Offering your employees the chance to hear presenters on topics like managing stress and anxiety helps them make better decisions when it comes to their own well being. By reaching out to your employees, you are showing them that you care about their emotional health. Ask them what topics they may want to know more about like elder care planning, managing life with small children or how to create a work/life balance.
Make Monday Mornings Great Again
One of the most difficult things to do is to come back to work on Monday mornings. After the weekend, we all find that we have the Monday morning blues. Offer your workers breakfast and a chance to decompress first thing in the morning. It allows everyone to catch up from the weekend, feel refreshed and ready to tackle the week. Ask your employees if they want to share what they are working on during the week and see if there are opportunities for collaboration or if anyone is in need of assistance.
Open Projects to a Wider Audience
This is where your strengths as a manager shine. Instead of going to the same people for the same tasks, take the time to ask newer employees or team members to take on tasks that they may not have done in the past. Give them a chance to learn new skills and work with new team members. Your open-door policy will always let them ask questions. But this is a great chance for them to add a new dimension to their repertoire and for you to develop depth on your team.
Allow for Change
One of the best things you can do is allow your team members the chance to bring forward new business ideas without repercussions. If they find a project that they want to pursue, offer them the time and resources to do so in a thoughtful way. If there is a contract that they want to bid on, encourage them to develop a plan of attack to present to the team so they can make a decision together. Many of the ideas that your team members come up with may be in contradiction to the way that things are normally done around the office but it's important for team members to feel ownership of what they are doing. The more they feel connected to the projects they are working on, the engaged they will be.
Keep your mind open to the thoughts and ideas that your team has in the coming year. Often, we learn more when we listen than when we speak. Keeping employees engaged beyond the day to day work will contribute to their job satisfaction, well-being and leadership skills in the long run.