Employee engagement is one of the big “must haves” for companies who are looking to improve their employees’ efficiency and motivation. Many startups and small businesses often think that only big companies need to worry about employee engagement. However, this is the wrong idea to have.

Every brand, new and old, needs to ensure that its employees are engaged with the work they are doing and are committed to the company’s mission. New businesses especially cannot just rely on the novel “startup culture” to carry the day. Formalised employee engagement strategise are a must for building the right team for the job.

Unfortunately, most startups might not have the resources to dedicate someone to a human resources role or implement an employee engagement plan. Thankfully, you can still organise and manage your company in such a way that it puts employee engagement first.

1. Assign work wisely
It is very important that job roles are defined clearly. Making employees wear too many hats is a sure-fire way of overburdening them and sapping their enthusiasm. Wherever possible, try to assign work based on passion and interests. Spending the time to get to know your employees will help you to get an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.

2. Reach for the sky, but don’t punish failure
Go into every new project with a standard for excellence. Set the bar high and inspire the team with confidence that they can hit it. That being said, give your employees room to innovate and fail. A high bar with freedom for failure can lead to increased enthusiasm to experiment with new ideas.

3. Recognise good work where it is due
Words of affirmation can go a long way; especially in a small company. There are plenty of studies that show that simple acknowledgement from leaders on a job well done can lead to greater engagement and motivation. Small companies do not always have the resources to offer a pay raise for every small success, but stopping to acknowledge the hard work of employees will cost you nothing. Maybe even take your employees out for lunch to show your appreciation for their efforts.

4. Create a sense of mission
Employees of a small business are fully aware that they are not the biggest kids on the block. However, you can make them feel like they are connected to something larger than themselves. Having a clear company vision can help drive employees to ever greater heights. With a defined mission statement, employees will feel like they are working for something meaningful as their roles are contributing to the company’s one vision.

5. Create a professional environment
Many view startup culture as a cliché and laidback environment. While yes, a break room is something good to have, it is also important to have a respectful office environment where team members can concentrate, collaborate, and feel valued as an employee. Remember, employees want to do meaningful work. While offering them amenities to rest and recuperate is appreciated, they also value a functioning workplace.

6. Build a training/onboarding program
Even if small companies might not have the resources for a dedicated HR infrastructure, developing an onboarding plan is still viable. As a matter of fact, while your company’s still small, you can ask existing team members for their feedback: What do they wish they’d known on day one? What are some helpful ways to get new team members in the swing of things? A good onboarding plan from day one can lead to good engagement from day one.


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