A recent Accountemps survey revealed that workers are disengaged with their jobs for an average of 26 per cent of their workdays. If your accountants, auditors and analysts feel lacklustre about or even avoid their work more than quarter of the time, your department’s risk of missing deadlines and making critical errors goes way up.
The following tips can help boost your employees’ interest in their work and help push engagement towards the 100 per cent mark.
1. Check in with staff. Regardless of your packed schedule or the size of your department, carve out regular one-on-one time with each member of your team. Don’t just wait for the annual performance review, as problems could build up in the meantime — and disengagement could take root. It’s better to have informal catch-ups every couple weeks or so for monitoring progress, gauging satisfaction and offering support.
2. Solicit suggestions. Using questionnaires and in-person discussions, ask employees for ideas on how to make their jobs more engaging and interesting. Of course, you can’t eliminate all their more mundane and rote tasks, but getting their feedback on how to improve worker happiness is a good starting point for increasing engagement. For example, if a majority of your team is dissatisfied with their compensation packages, then the firm should take another look at salaries, bonuses and perks.
3. Provide professional development. When an employee feels like the company is investing in them, they tend to return the investment with greater engagement and productivity. Development options can range from cross-training and internal mentorship programs to bringing in guest speakers and giving employees time to attend relevant webinars or conferences.
4. Make work more meaningful. One of the key drivers of job satisfaction is doing work that employees feel is worthwhile. Managers can address this issue in three ways. First, leverage technology to improve automation so your team can spend more time on higher-value and strategic work that machines can’t do. Second, remind staff of the company’s vision and mission and how their contributions are an important part of realising those objectives. Third, strengthen the firm’s involvement in the communities in which your workers live. When employees see they’re part of a greater good, they can become more motivated and engaged in their work.
5. Offer flexibility. Respect your employees as responsible professionals. This includes recognising that different people work better at different times of day, from various locations, and with the freedom to adjust their schedules according to their needs and preferences. When you trust staff to get their work done without hovering over them, one result is greater productivity and job satisfaction.
6. Encourage time away. A lunch or coffee break — and not one taken at their desk — can do wonders for workers’ concentration, energy levels and, ultimately, their level of engagement. Remind your team to pause regularly throughout the day to relax and revive. The same goes for holidays and annual leaves. A long stretch of time away from work can do wonders for engagement when employees return to the office. Just make sure you walk the talk: Take some downtime yourself so you’re not sending mixed messages.
7. Plan social events. People are more engaged in their assignments when they have strong relationships at the office. Foster an atmosphere of camaraderie and fun with monthly birthday parties, after-work social hours, staff retreats, all-company picnics and other events where your team can simply relax, enjoy and get to know one another better not just as colleagues, but also as friends.
8. Recognise top performers. Worker disengagement can happen when people don’t feel appreciated for the great ideas they come up with or all the hard work they do. Fix this scenario with a variety of strategies to acknowledge your key staff. If you don’t have a peer recognition programme, start one. Make it a habit to publicly acknowledge individuals who’ve exceeded goals or gone above and beyond. And don’t forget about more substantial measures, like spot and retention bonuses, promotions, and pay increases.
Don’t just accept that your team is mentally checked out over a quarter of their time at work. Take action to boost employee engagement. You’ll likely wind up with greater productivity, happier clients and fewer staffing headaches.
This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at roberthalf.co.uk/blog.