Employee Engagement and Productivity How Supervisors Can Motivate Staff

Employee Engagement and Productivity How Supervisors Can Motivate Staff

Hi my name is Sheryl Wolowyk, owner of myHRpro, and in this human resources video I’m going to show you how Supervisors can improve employee engagement and productivity and reduce employee turnover.


In addition to proactively doing things to improve the workplace culture, developing Supervisors and Managers to be proactive about employee engagement activities can have a very big impact on the levels of employee retention. Many surveys show that people quit organizations because of their relationship with their Supervisors so training Supervisors in how to reduce employee turnover and actively work towards employee engagement pays huge dividends for organizations.


So what can we teach leaders to do to create a healthy work environment and increase employee retention within organizations?


  • Give your people a sense of purpose – Show your people how what they do impacts the organization positively.
  • Create a “culture of appreciation” – An organization where what people do is appreciated in both tangible and intangible ways.
  • Catch people doing things right – Train Supervisors to notice when people are doing things right and to give them positive feedback immediately to reinforce the behaviour. Make sure the feedback is specific and behavioural so that the person understands what they did right and why it was appreciated.
  • Have Supervisors say “thank you” and mean it.
  • Ensure your Supervisors keep their commitments and promises.
  • Encourage and support employee development – Interesting and challenging work keeps people on the job. Organizations also benefit from employee development by creating a pool of talented people who are ready, willing and able to meet organizational challenges.
  • Provide coaching and mentoring – Career development is one of the most important retention factors. Coaching and mentoring help individuals to grow and develop, and to become ready to accept new projects or roles within the organization. Teach Supervisors how to coach and mentor their employees for success.
  • Manage performance issues – Surprisingly, our research based on hundreds of exit interviews has shown that employees expect and want their Supervisors to deal with performance issues – both with co-workers and with managers. Not dealing with these issues can disillusion workers and contribute to them deciding to leave.
  • Listen, listen, listen, and ASK! We sometimes make assumptions about what motivates others and keeps them on the job. We need to make sure Supervisors are listening to their people and asking important questions like, “What keeps you here?” to find out what really is important to them. Without knowledge, there is little we can do to address issues.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate – Have Supervisors explain to employees what’s going on in the organization and the work group. Make sure they clearly communicate their performance expectations and the goals of the organization. Today’s workers want to be kept informed and to have a role and voice in what’s happening in the organization. Have Supervisors give employees a chance to participate in decision-making in a real and meaningful way.
  • Walk the talk – If Supervisors ask for something from their employees, make sure they are doing it themselves. Employees listen to what is said but more importantly, watch what Supervisors do and what gets rewarded, and it is the latter that they will pay attention to and emulate.


Demonstrate respect for work/life balance – As stated previously, the costs to Canadian employers for stress related illness resulting in short term or long-term disability is skyrocketing and is already in the billions of dollars annually. Not paying attention to work/life balance not only creates burnout and inefficiency, but illness and turnover. As employers, we need to support work/life balance in a meaningful way.


Go to our website at www.myhrpro.com to take a Supervisor Survey to see how well you score in the areas of employee engagement.


Now it is a commonly held misconception that people leave organizations for more money. While fair compensation is important, many studies have shown that it is not high on the priority list. McKinsey’s “War for Talent Research”, based on 5,679 respondents (multi-level and sector) found the following list of factors contributing to employee retention has emerged. This list includes:


  • Interesting, challenging and meaningful work.
  • Career development and learning opportunities.
  • Opportunities for promotion and developmental assignments.
  • Fair and accurate feedback and assessment mechanisms to pinpoint areas for development
  • Strong leadership and communication.
  • A great work environment.
  • Recognition and rewards.
  • Work/life balance.
  • Fair and equitable compensation.
  • Flexible work arrangements and benefits.

Evaluating how your organization is performing against these factors may give you important insight into the causes of employee turnover. However, be careful not to make assumptions. To really determine what is going on, talk to your people. Conduct employee surveys, post-employment interviews and exit interviews. Find out directly from them what the issues are.


Once you have some insight into the causes of your employee retention problems, engage your people in developing solutions, particularly in the area of rewards and recognition. Also work with your managers and leaders. Do they know how to show genuine appreciation and say “thank you” and sound like they mean it? Don’t forget to look at your human resource systems – do you have sound practices in place that support employee retention strategies?


Solving the retention management puzzle requires a multi-pronged approach as well as time and effort. However, systemic initiatives supported by positive managerial and team behaviour can make a significant, positive impact in attracting and retaining talent. And given the high cost of turnover, isn’t it worth the effort?


For more information on how to increase employee engagement and reduce employee turnover go to www.myhrpro.com to see other human resources videos or to take a Supervisor survey to see how well you score in areas that improve employee engagement. Our website also has useful hr forms and template and human resources articles that you can download and use for your organization.