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How to Engage Employees in the Workplace: Your Relationship With Your Staff is Key



The 'how to' of employee engagement is a hot topic in business

circles but what cannot be forgotten is that a big part of engagement at work is based on quality relationships.

If you are wondering how to engage your employees in the workplace, remember that your relationship with your staff is key.

The focus of this article is the rapport you build with your team as their leader. Getting relationships right with your staff and making them a focus is critical because the most common reasons given by employees for leaving a workplace is issues with their direct manager. What can be done to prevent this?

Relationships Begin With You

As a leader, strong relationships at work begin with you, and one of the most impactful ways to build connections and engage your team is to let people feel they are seen by you and valued. Gallup sites that 70% of the variability in employee engagement levels is directly influenced by managers.

Be present to your staff, let them know they are important and their efforts matter. Validation at work is more essential than ever with the shifting post pandemic dynamics of the workplace. Many businesses are supporting more than one model of work with some employees being back on site full time and others still working remotely or in a hybrid version of their position.

Working remotely has made employees reprioratize what feels worthwhile. Work is not the end all be all it used to be as people look at what is truly important in their lives. They are becoming increasingly willing to walk away from situations where they don't feel valued, work included. With countless positions, it is the job seeker’s market.

You may also find this interesting: How Important is Employee Engagment: What is its Impact on Workplaces?

How Can You Build Relationships That Will Engage and Retain Your Staff?

First, remember that the like, know and trust factor applies at work too and a big part of that is knowing your staff needs your presence and to see you. Employees who feel validated: seen, heard, valued and understood, are more likely to put in extra effort on the job, as well as to stay and grow with your business.

True leadership is not being invisible to people until you need something or sitting back and giving orders about what they need to do. You will be perceived as distant, entitled and disconnected from what they are going through and what they need.

Show up on the floor and get involved in their projects. Ask questions about how things are going, what challenges people are facing and what support can help them execute tasks to meet deadlines and expectations.

It's Not Only Okay but Necessary to Make it Personal

Take just a minute to make it personal too. People have lives outside of work and a lot is going on for them. Ask about their weekend, their kids and the top of mind, stressful things concerning them.

Of course there are boundaries to keep it professional, but treat your staff as people first, and you will be surprised by how they show up for you.

It is also important to have regular, focused conversations with each individual employee about their work goals. Find out what motivates them, how they respond to challenges or setbacks and ultimately what interests them. Ask them what they'd like to learn more about or have the opportunity to do.

Once you have a sense of who your staff are as people, you can support them in reaching goals that return to your business as the profits and rewards of increased engagement supported by connection.


Employee engagement is built upon strong relationships with your staff as individuals and with your team.

To engage your employees, engage with them. Get to know them. Learn about them personally and professionally. They'll appreciate knowing you care about them and want to know about them on both levels, and a foundation of trust will be built because they feel valued.

The rapport that is built through the time and effort you make will excel progress in the workplace and empower your team when there are challenges to navigate.

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