Engaged employees are an asset to any company’s operations. The keys to inspiring and maintaining employee engagement are oftentimes obvious yet easily forgotten and overlooked by some. When employees feel invested in their work, appreciated in their role, and when communications are open and transparent, it increase morale and productivity sometimes in major ways.

Here are twelve staff management and employee engagement best practices to uphold:

1. Fun

Work doesn’t have to be boring. By keeping things interesting at work, this is a great way to keep your employees engaged. You don’t want people there going through the motions. Especially if it’s monotonous, repetitive work, you’ve got to work hard to keep things interesting. Consider promotional contests, competitions, and incentives, or special employee days where they’re encouraged to wear something specific or go casual.

2. Hiring

If you’re hiring the wrong people, you’ll never have the employee engagement level you want. Candidates for the job should be looked at honestly regarding how engaged they are likely to be. In the same way you’re evaluating experience and qualifications, consider their traits and behaviour. Don’t just hire anyone as every new employee will have an effect on engagement.

3. Forward-thinking

Employees want to be in a work environment that’s forward thinking, growing, and trendy. If necessary, change your layout and appearance. Consider moving to a different space altogether. Include things like paintings, music, and switching out anything uncomfortable or unattractive. Ask employees what they want to see in a workplace.

4. Goals

Every employee should know what they’re expected to do, goal-wise and in responsibility. Engagement can suffer when employees do not know what’s expected or how to apply themselves most effectively. Articulate goals clearly. If they meet them, congratulate them and provide them with their next task.

5. Be human

Yes it’s a professional environment however that doesn’t mean you can’t have a human connection with your employees. In fact, employees put more trust in a boss when they know them on a personal level. Show your human side and use it to build trust. Be open with others, answer questions openly, and from a professional standpoint work on building a human connection between yourself your employees.

6. Advancement

Be supportive of long-term business goals and when possible provide those advancement opportunities. Jobs are fluid. Even if an employee is using their position or your business as a stepping stone, this doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable. You’re not going to keep 100% of your employees. If you want to see a change in engagement, help your employees plan their trajectory.

7. Underperformers

Anyone underperforming should be given a little help. Not every staff member is going to consistently deliver 100 percent of the time. Everybody needs a helping hand every now and again. Give attention to employees struggling. You may uncover underlying issues that need to be fixed such as employees behaving badly. There may be internal business processes de-motivating employees as well. All it takes is to ask and have a serious conversation about why someone’s not performing the way they used to.

8. Choices

No employee wants to be a cog in the wheel. They want choices. Give your employees the chance to be themselves, to work at their own pace, and provide them a little bit of freedom – as long as it doesn’t affect overall production levels. For some, this might mean allowing them some time to work from home, allowing them to plan their breaks occasionally, or giving them some freedom to switch out shifts they don’t want or re-arrange their schedule.

9. From the top down

Employee engagement is not just about getting those on the front lines excited and active. Executives and management should be engaged as well. Building strategies from the top down produces a model of change by which the rest of your employee base to follow. Instead of preaching for more engagement, show them more! Prove that you’re engaged. Be consistent. Employees seeing you bringing your best to every moment on a project is likely to help them do the same.

10. Open, direct communication

Communication that’s open and direct means an employee feels comfortable to speak about their needs, make comments, and to be themselves. By giving your employees the chance to express questions and concerns, and hearing them out, that’s going to give employees a welcome feeling that they’re working for an employer who cares. It will also help you identify problems you may not have otherwise known existed and resolve them before they worsen.

11. Encourage high achievers

Employees who are high performers should be identified and acknowledged. They should be made to feel appreciated and like all their effort counts for something. Reward them, promote them, and keep them happy. If they’re the type of superstar the numbers show, they will either help your company move forward or they’ll find somewhere else that appreciates them and where they are better rewarded for their performance.

12. Measurable results

Employee engagement is not necessarily about creating happiness in the workplace. Engagement is measurable, seen in productivity and work efficiency. Use workforce management software to analyze your staff engagement with quantitative data. This isn’t to say employees shouldn’t be happy. Of course employees should be happy in their roles and with their responsibilities however if you’re not getting the benefits of this, it’s not employee engagement.