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Build from Within: Why Leaders Are the Backbone of an Engaged Business Community

Richard Cheeseman
Director HCM Applications Marketing EMEA

Leaders are the backbone of every organization. They set the tone for the business and represent its beliefs and values. 

But leaders also drive the success of a business on a much deeper level. Throughout each employee’s tenure, the company’s leaders are supposed to define what success looks like and help align employee performance goals with the company’s values and long-term vision. Managers then ensure that those expectations are met through regular feedback.

But great leadership isn’t just about the clearly-defined program elements, such as learning. An organization’s leaders must build relationships with their employees, instill the cultural values of the business, and create an environment in which employees feel like they belong. The modern workforce wants to work for a business that finds their emotional, mental, and physical well-being to be of the utmost importance. 

Oracle Human Capital Management’s Global Survey confirms the critical role that great leaders and managers play in employee engagement. Results from the survey of 4,706 employees suggest a connection between the availability of leaders and managers and employees’ overall confidence in leadership: Fewer than half (47%) of the survey’s respondents said their leaders are available and approachable, and even fewer (44%) said they have confidence in their company’s leadership. 

It’s no wonder that employees have a flawed perception of leadership: Just 47% of survey respondents said they receive recognition when they do a good job. But how can HR practitioners ensure their leaders are building employee relationships, setting and following company standards, and, encouraging their employees to move up within the organization? 

Here are six key actions HR executives can require leaders to take to improve employee engagement:

1. Get involved early. From day one, leaders need to capture their employees’ engagement—or risk quickly losing it. Leaders should begin by having an open conversation with new employees about their role and how they’ll contribute to the overall organization. They need to set clear expectations for performance and explain how they’ll help employees be successful by offering ongoing learning and development opportunities.

2. Communicate and assess performance regularly. Annual reviews are not enough; leaders must constantly connect and communicate with employees about their performance, their progress on meeting specific goals, and ways to further improve performance. Employees want this continuous, open communication because it shows that leaders are invested in their long-term roles in the organization. 

3. Recognize and reward on a consistent basis. Leaders should also highlight their employees’ progress and accomplishments. Regular communication about how employees’ day-to-day work contributes to big-picture goals affects employee engagement. An act as simple as sending a personal email to give kudos can make employees feel like they’re contributing to the business. Leaders should also show their appreciation by thinking of creative ways to reward their employees, such as treating them to a one-on-one lunch or rewarding them with a personal day. 

4. Be accessible. You don’t want employees to feel ignored. Leaders should be responsive to employees at all levels. This helps the organization instill employee confidence and shows that leadership follows the same communication requirements and best practices they’re attempting to implement across the organization. 

5. Enrich and empower your talent. Every employee should have the opportunity to expand their skills and find the best ways to further contribute to an organization. For some employees, that will mean finding ways to better perform in their current role; for others, it means acquiring new skills so they can move to a new role in the company. Organizations must establish a development plan for employees early on in their tenure and give them access to learning and development opportunities. Over time, leadership should identify employees who have the potential to grow and provide the development tools needed in their new or expanded role. 

6. Embrace technology. There are more ways than ever for leaders to stay in touch with their employees and ensure they have a working environment that encourages collaboration and seamless access to information. Using tools such as instant messaging and mobile collaboration apps, organizations can keep their employees engaged and keep them on the path to success. 

To learn more about the Oracle HCM survey and other factors that affect employee engagement, download the complete report now

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