An employee can easily go to work in a good mood, do a good job and feel comfortable in his position. But it is the one who is innovative, passionate and engaged who will ensure that there is money in your cash register. It’s therefore necessary for you to spend time on setting some standards as to how you will encourage your employees.

We have identified five points crucial in building your employee engagement standards – and we have a little bonus tip for you as well…

1) Remember to say “thank you”

For some reason, those two small words can be easy to forget.

According to a survey from 2013, 57 per cent of disengaged employees said they felt ignored at work. Obviously, no one wants to feel like they are indifferent or listen to criticism all day long. A ‘thank you’, ‘good job’ or ’happy birthday’ is all you need to say to make someone feel appreciated. A good idea is to make announcements or acknowledgements public on staff meetings for instance, so everyone can be a part of the good experiences.

2) Allow mistakes to happen

“Employees who are afraid of doing something wrong will never live up to their full potential or take any unnecessary risks—including the kind that pay off big,” says Bonnie Harvey, co-author of The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. And she is right. It’s very possible that one of your waiters will spill water on a guest, that your chef will overcook the veal, or perhaps your bartender mixes the wrong ingredients in his cocktail. Instead of yelling at and being condescending to the person (who probably already feels bad enough as it is), turn the situation into something positive. Make a humorous comment or give them a pat on the shoulder.

Make this a part of your customer service standards and you will let everyone know that it is OK to make mistakes – well, sometimes at least.

3) Encourage friendly competition

A little competition has never hurt anyone. And that’s why you should let your employees compete on how many tuna sandwiches they can sell in four hours, how many desserts they can push in one evening, or how many customers they can get to order your house wine. If you encourage them to have a friendly rivalry (and fun!) while working, they will be eager to perform well – and as a result, they will be much more vested in their job. Your task will of course be to come up with a tasty prize for the winner – a free meal, a bottle of wine or maybe even a day off.

4) Encourage camaraderie

When new people are treated well, they are much more enthusiastic about their new position, colleagues and your restaurant, and they actually tend to stay longer. Therefore, be sure that an informal hierarchy is part of your work environment, and let your employees know that you appreciate camaraderie – for instance, you can arrange parties, have small birthday celebrations, encourage them to stay for a chat or a meal after work etc.

5) Welcome feedback

As mentioned above, we encourage you to keep an informal hierarchical structure to make your employees feel like a part of the team. However, that also means that you have to be able to listen to, understand and take in any feedback they might give you – both good and bad. Even if you don’t agree with them, letting them feel like a part of the progress or solution will make them feel empowered.

Bonus tip:

One of the most important things to add in your employee engagement strategy is to make scheduling collaborative. Finding a perfect work/private life balance can be a very frustrating task for many people, which is why your employees will feel empowered and important, and they will appreciate that you take their personal needs into consideration, if you involve them in the planning of their work life. You can do this by using an online scheduling tool that will enable your employees to handle shift trading mutually and give them a communication platform so they can always reach each other. It’s flexible and simple – and very collaborative.

These are quite simple incentives to implement. Do you have any other simple tips on how to build employee engagement?

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Lisa Andersen
Lisa Andersen Content Editor
Part of Planday’s content team in Copenhagen, Lisa is into yoga and loves good writing. Her experience includes working with communication and PR for international grassroots organizations in Argentina and Bolivia.