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Best Practices for Creating an Engaged Workforce

Only a third of U.S. employees feel engaged at work, according to Gallup polls. In a recent NAIOP Advantage Series webinar, Bozzuto’s Kristen Reese-Magni, vice president of talent and culture, provided an in-depth look at what factors characterize an engaged workforce and how that translates to business results: from improved productivity to higher employee retention rates. Reese-Magni participated in a bonus question-and-answer session following the webinar.

Q: Do you recommend bi-annual (or quarterly or monthly) performance check-ins, or more organic feedback as things come up?

A: Fostering a feedback culture can take some time if managers are not adept at giving or receiving constructive feedback. And let’s not forget the power of a simple “thank you.” If a framework exists for effective goal setting and ongoing constructive feedback that helps or inspires an employee to perform their job better and learn new things, formal semi-annual or annual performance reviews might be fine.

However, only coming together once or twice a year to discuss performance and development opportunities most often will not yield the best outcomes – and can often result in disconnects between managers and employees about expectations.

Q: What are some examples of companies that you think are getting employee engagement right? What are some ways they are doing it right?

A: It’s hard for me to speak to this as I don’t have access to the engagement data for other companies. Awards like Fortune or Inc. Best Places to Work, or the Glassdoor Employer Choice Awards, can certainly point to companies that are engaged in and tracking the right activities around engagement drivers.

That said, having a highly engaged workforce is not about winning awards. There are many companies that don’t participate in these processes but have put measures in place to ensure a high degree of satisfaction among employees through culture, learning, leadership, recognition and growth opportunities (to name a few).

Q: If you as a manager got off on the wrong foot with an employee – they don’t seem engaged – how can you take steps to improve the professional relationship?

A: Talk to them! Ask them what’s getting in the way. Acknowledge that things are not optimal. If you’ve made mistakes or failed to clearly communicate expectations, own it. I strongly believe hiring, setting expectations and managing performance to the same set of metrics drastically reduces confusion for an employee. With regular, constructive and motivational feedback (all feedback, even negative, should help or inspire an employee to perform their job better), there are fewer chances for a manager and his or her employees to not be on the same page.

The “Great Workplaces” Advantage Series webinar was presented on January 15, 2019. NAIOP members can register to view the archived webinar. The Advantage Series is an exclusive member benefit, delivering expert insights into the latest research to help you make informed business decisions. Register for the upcoming webinar, “Setting Up a Private Equity Fund,” on February 19, 2019, 2-3 p.m. ET.

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