Keeping employees engaged is like being in a relationship – the not-so-textbook set of advice

If you make just one Google Search on the subject “How to Keep Employees Engaged”, you’ll find all kind of related information: “How To Be A Good Manager In 5 Steps”, “10 Ways To Keep Employees Engaged” or “How Smart Companies Do It”.

And since February is “The month of love”, I’ll just break it down to you: Truth is, employee engagement is more like a love relationship.

So, let’s see why:

Respect, communicate and listen. Communication is vital in EVERY relationship. Even in work-related environments. It is especially important if you want to have motivated and engaged employees – listen to them, communicate every decision you make to them and make them feel like they REALLY are a part of your company. You might also learn important insights and precious new ideas!

Choose the people you’ll work with based on the values you have in common. We’ve all had those summer flings that we didn’t really think would last forever. They never do, because “love at first sight” doesn’t stand a chance in front of one’s personality, values and principles. If you’re looking for a partner to (hopefully) spend your entire life with, you’ll search for someone who shares the same values that you believe in.

So, when you’re hiring, it’s not always important to choose the most technically qualified person for the job. Keep in mind that you’ll need a person that integrates well, a person with whom you’ll be able to collaborate and reach a set of goals together. It’s important to have someone in for the long run. And keep in mind that, while technical abilities can be learnt, one’s personal values can hardly be changed over time.

Work every day on your relationship.

“Bring her flowers every day, for no reason”, “Tell him how much you appreciate it when he does something nice for you”… Just like those little, sweet gestures that should continue even after the first years of relationship, you should always consider keeping “the flame” alive in your employees. Don’t forget to ask for their opinion, but also to occasionally discuss their passions and points of interest. Even if you might think you don’t have time for that, those 2 minutes will mean so much more to them. MAKE time and be really interested! (They can smell fakeness).

In times of crisis, choose people over money. In every long-term relationship or marriage, there comes a time when financial resources are scarce. Those are times when you should be supportive with your partner, think about the fact that this is just a momentary crisis and, in the long term, you will still love him/her and want to continue that relationship. Long story short: Don’t bail out.

Money, as opposed to what most may think, is not even in the second or third place when it comes to employee engagement. If you’ve successfully implemented all of the above, your employees will want – even if it seems a little unbelievable now – to stay with you through the hard times. So, don’t just decide to fire them on the spot. Let them know the company’s going through a rough patch, but you need their support and you appreciate it. They will feel like the company’s problem is their problem also and they will help you find solutions to cut back expenses.

If you’re already starting to feel butterflies in your stomach, it’s time to go tell those employees how much you love them!

Yours truly (in love),

Alexandra Zăinescu