Trends, Products, and Best Practices to Help You Create a Work Made Human Experience

Follow the Leader: 6 Ways to Forge Relationships between Employees and Managers

Richard Cheeseman
Director HCM Applications Marketing EMEA

If your employees aren’t engaged in the workplace, it’s time to talk with their managers. While nobody can force employees to feel engaged and committed to their jobs or their organizations, managers and leaders have the greatest opportunity to light the spark of engagement in them. 

That’s because an employee’s level of engagement is closely linked with his or her perceptions of the leadership—and for most employees, the immediate manager is the leader who matters most. For instance, today’s employees want to find a sense of understanding, belonging, and well-being at work—and managers are positioned to help establish that sense of belonging through live contact, visibility, and strong relationships. According to Oracle Human Capital Management’s recent employee engagement survey of nearly 5,000 global employees, those employees who have a close working relationship with a manager are far more likely to have faith in their leadership and enjoy greater feelings of well-being on the job. 

But most employees don’t have a positive, open relationship with their managers. Among those responding to the Oracle HCM survey, just 47% of employees said their leaders are available and approachable. On a related note, only 44% said they have confidence in the leadership of their company. 

The most-engaged employees have leaders who don’t just take an interest in their performance during their annual reviews. Instead, their leaders work toward continuous, open communication that builds relationships with employees, reassuring them when they’re doing a good job or providing constructive feedback to help them improve. 

HR leaders can help ensure that ground-level managers are fueling employee engagement by training them to build strong relationships with their workers. Train your managers to turn these six actions into habits that fuel employee engagement:

  1. Get involved with employees directly.
    Every employee needs to have a direct relationship with a manager, someone to turn to with questions or concerns and someone who can be relied on for recognition of a job well done. HR leaders can educate managers to understand that their interactions with an employee can have a major impact on that employee’s feelings of well-being.
  2. Communicate the value of each individual’s work.
    Part of a successful employer-employee relationship is regular recognition and explanation of the employee’s role. By communicating the value of an employee’s work, managers help that employee better understand where the work he or she does fits into the big picture. When employees understand the impact their efforts have on business success, it helps them develop a sense of ownership in the company’s mission.
  3. Set an example.
    Team members look to their managers to determine the best ways to communicate with them. Effective leaders set the example for how best to communicate with those who directly report to them, conduct reports, and deliver recognition.
  4. Remain extremely accessible.
    As growing numbers of employees work remotely, in far-flung offices, or in large enterprises, it’s easy for them to feel disconnected from company leadership. Effective leaders must make an extra effort to be extremely accessible. That accessibility may look different for each leader, but it could include instant messaging, weekly team meetings, or a regular drop-in at each employee’s workspace.
  5. Be actively involved in the working lives of new employees.
    From the day they start at your organization, new hires need a positive working relationship with a friendly, caring manager. From day one, the ground-level manager can set the pace for a new hire’s success better than anyone else in the business.
  6. Use technology and digital experiences to stay in touch with everyone.
    There are more ways than ever for leaders to stay in touch with employees. Encourage managers to use tools such as instant messaging, video conferencing, and mobile collaboration apps so they can stay in frequent contact.

When managers and leaders take these steps, Oracle HCM research shows that employees will become more deeply engaged in their work. And engaged employees are not only more likely to stick around for the long term, they’re also more likely to be more productive and effective. 

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