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Skills shortages continue to present a major challenge for organisations in 2021. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC)’s latest Jobs Recovery Tracker revealed that the total number of active job postings increased to 2.68 million in November – a record high for the UK.

Furthermore, 45% of employers believe that competition for talent has increased over the last year, with 49% of those who attempted to recruit reporting difficulties attracting suitable candidates, according to the CIPD’s Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey 2021, produced in partnership with Omni.

As a result, employers are increasingly turning their attention to boosting employee engagement so they can retain valuable talent. Not only are engaged employees more likely to stay with a business, but research shows that organisations scoring the highest on employee engagement had 21% greater profits.

Despite an assumption that employee engagement starts at the top, the true influencers of employee buy-in, attitude and satisfaction are direct line managers. Research has revealed that 70% of a team’s engagement is influenced by managers rather than those at the top.

The CIPD’s Good Work Index survey also confirmed that the quality of relationships between Manager and Employee, and the level of support given consistently related to various aspects of engagement, including job satisfaction, enthusiasm, effort and intention to quit.

Despite their influence, meeting company objectives while remaining hands-on with teams means middle managers often feel the most pressure in an organisation. Additionally, the growing skills shortages have meant increased workloads for managers who, rather than placing pressure on their team, are attempting to plug the gaps themselves, resulting in difficulty striking the right balance.

Here are some tips for managers that will help boost employee engagement while alleviating the pressure during challenging times.

 

1. Be Open

During particularly busy periods, it’s easy for managers to put their heads down and get on with the tasks at hand. However, their actions provide a blueprint for their team. If they work alone, they are more likely to breed a culture of siloed working. Instead, being open about what they’re working on and why will help teams understands the bigger picture. Using this as an opportunity for everyone to share what they’re working on and raise any issues or requests for support.

 

2. Delegate

Delegation is a vital skill for any middle manager, but it can be a challenge, particularly during periods of upturn. While it may feel like delegating takes longer than doing the work themselves, assigning tasks to employees is key to their learning and development. An organisation can only grow and improve if the people working within it become more capable, which will require delegation of tasks (even if they believe they can do it better). It’s also a key indicator of trust for employees, reassuring them that their contributions are valued and, in turn, boosting their overall engagement.

 

3. Feedback

Creating a culture where feedback and honesty are valued goes a long way in increasing morale and elevating productivity. Taking time to develop and grow an open, two-way feedback culture enables teams to share insights, concerns and challenges. Encouraging employees to provide feedback will help to kickstart this new approach and foster an atmosphere of openness and honesty.

Peer-to-peer feedback is another important element when growing this culture. Encouraging employees to give each other helpful and positive feedback related to areas of improvement can help them feel valued and lead to natural mentorship within the team.

 

4. Accountability

People want to know they’re making a difference within an organisation and that their contribution is valued. Without accountability, employee engagement will suffer. Creating accountability in teams lets people understand what is expected of them and take ownership of their piece in the

organisational puzzle. A team needs clearly defined expectations to achieve goals as well as progress updates to ensure they’re on the right track. All successes should be identified and celebrated, with any mistakes viewed as an opportunity to learn and develop, helping employees embrace and thrive on autonomy.

 

5. Consistency

The best managers are consistent in their approach and what they expect of their people. A lack of consistency can lead to employee disengagement as they won’t know how to prioritise their efforts or the best way to communicate with their manager. Of course, if the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that an organisation’s expectations, goals, and requirements can change quickly, which is why communication is critical. Keeping team members in the loop and explaining why things are happening while providing an opportunity for them to express any thoughts or concerns is key to gaining their understanding and trust.

Looking for support? We understand the importance of developing and nurturing your managers. Omni’s Management Training programmes provide a comprehensive and tailored solution to developing and upskilling managers of all levels, from team leaders to heads of department and directors. To find out more about our high-impact training programmes, contact Suzanne Browne who heads up our management training team today.