Zombies Need Not Apply: 7 Tips for Employee Engagement

Zombies are real. In fact, some small businesses have a large contingent of zombies on the payroll.

They’re not the flesh eating variety. No, these zombies gnaw away at productivity, innovation and morale. Zombie infestation is an all-too-real horror that can make small business management a true nightmare.

Unfortunately, zombie policies don’t work. It’s not enough to require your employees to be engaged at the workplace. Engagement needs to be actively fostered.

If walking corpses are infecting your office, or you want to prevent them from getting in, we’ve got just the thing to keep your employees engaged and make small business management easier.

Here are seven tips to keep your employees engaged:

Tip #1 – Gamify the Work Experience

I’d rather be fishing, or quilting, or golfing, or shopping, or spelunking…You’ve seen the bumper stickers. The one that says, “I’d rather be working” is the all-time worst seller.

Work and play are often pitted against each other, like two completely separate circles in a venn diagram.

But work and play don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

Think about ways to turn your employees’ common tasks into a game. Get ideas from your staff. The “how do we make this more fun” brainstorm is always be a nice change of pace.

Here are just a few ideas… Trivia contests for required reading, point systems with prizes for stellar work, new annual traditions like seasonal cook-offs and an employee hackathon – get creative.

Tip #2 – Don’t Let Good Work Go Unrecognized

Your employees probably spend more time at work than they do with their family. Successful small business managers make sure to let employees know that their contributions are appreciated.

“Recognizing good work can be as simple as a thank you note, and the acknowledgement can go a long way towards increasing employee satisfaction. It's about taking the time to let people know how much you appreciate them. As a best practice, I block out time weekly on my schedule to ensure that I specifically recognize people who's actions went above and beyond.” – Mike Masters, VP of Marketing, Concur SMB


Think about it. If employees aren’t rewarded for going above and beyond, then what is the incentive for producing excellent work?


Tip #3 – Pay Attention

This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many small business managers avoid interaction with employees. Nothing says “I don’t value you” like snubbing the person who toils for you.

Make an effort to learn about lives outside the office. Learn about family members, hobbies, etc. This can easily be done with simple out-of-the-office lunches and happy hours. It’s just easier to work hard for someone who cares about you.

 Tip #4 – Aim for Great Communication

Communicate clearly, communicate consistently and communicate often.

Your employees should know exactly what you expect from them, and when they don’t, they should be able to approach you with questions and concerns. Try keeping your office door or IM chat window open and available whenever possible.

Be open to suggestions. And don’t punish the messenger if someone shares bad news. Doing so will only make it harder to understand the front-line issues facing your company.

Effective small business management begins with solid two-way communication.

Tip #5 – Spoiling Is Allowed

Employee benefits packages can be expensive to offer, but the cost of a substandard benefits package may be more expensive in the long run. Quality benefits make it easier to attract and retain top talent, reducing the cost of recruiting and training.

Roxanne Peplow, a business owner and professional development instructor at Computer Systems Institute, also recommends ongoing training benefits for small business management.

“You want your staff to be on top of their games and if you invest in them then they’re going to keep their investment with you. If you keep providing them with training or certifications, something to keep them educated in their fields, then they know you care about their well-being.They’ll feel valued as a person and then they’ll be less likely to go someplace else,” says Peplow.


Tip #6 – Give Employees What They Need to Succeed

Sure, good pay and a nice benefits package can go a long way. But, your employees aren’t sitting around 40+ hours per week thinking about compensation.

They’re working.

And if your employees don’t have the proper solutions to do their jobs effectively, work can be a miserable experience. Investing in solutions like expense management software can take painful, drawn-out tasks and make them a breeze.

The same solutions that improve your staff’s lives can also make small business management easier by increasing accuracy and visibility.


Tip #7 – Expand on the Annual Review

Chester Elton, author of NY Times bestseller All In, recommends conducting what he calls “previews.” Elton describes previews as “not a formal review but a chance to sit down with your direct reports and evaluate progress toward their goals and, more important for them, what their career ambitions are and what you can do to help achieve those goals.”

These don’t need to take place in a formal work environment either. Take them out to lunch or play a game of Corn Hole while chatting.

Would you like to be an engaged small business manager? We can help. Follow us on Twitter. 

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