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Engagement and empowerment: 4 simple ways to make work better

Most of us actually enjoy working and doing a great job. We find fulfillment in adding value and contributing our time and energy to something meaningful.

But too often, endless procedures, superfluous tasks, and office policies detract from that feeling of fulfillment, disengaging us from our work. Sixty percent of businesses have two to three approvals from managers for even the simplest human resources requests. Because of these redundancies, productivity suffers, communication breaks down, and many even have trouble remembering why they cared in the first place.

Cutting back to achieve more

While every job requires a certain amount of administrative activity, we must recognize when tasks become so laborious and time-consuming that they take away from the real work –— and drain our employees’ passion. It’s time to take action and focus on two things that really matter when it comes to making work better:

  • Employee engagement: The willingness to do great work because you really care and understand your purpose.
  • Employee empowerment: The ability to do great work because you have all the right information and tools.

With that in mind, you as a leader need to provide an environment that simplifies, reduces or even eliminates outdated and time-consuming practices that prevent engagement and empowerment. By cutting out insignificant tasks that draw your employees away from their real work, you can leverage employees’ passion for their jobs to achieve new levels of productivity and success.

4 easy ways to make work better

Fortunately, it takes only a few steps to create an environment that encourages workers to stay focused and engaged on the tasks that truly matter:

1. Reduce to the max. Cut as many administrative requirements as possible, especially those arduous for no reason. If an approval requires more than a yes or no, refine it. If processes require more than a smartphone, they’re most likely not suitable for the modern workplace. Look to those processes that have been approved more than 90% of the time and put into place auto-approvals to speed them along.

Jeffrey Immelt at General Electric has created a culture of simplification specifically to clear out these redundancies on a consistent basis. Reducing the time employees spend on organizational matters maximizes their capacity for real work.

2. Provide context. I know it’s often difficult to express the “why” behind decisions or actions, but explaining their purpose will give employees the reasoning they need to stay engaged.

Take time to think through and communicate the “why” for big changes as well as daily communication. And provide a platform for information: Instead of letting important messages get stuck in e-mail or your intranet, go where the people are.

3. Design for closure. Every organization needs structured processes to operate, but design them to reach closure quickly. Nothing is more rewarding than accomplishment, and nothing is a bigger drain on motivation than outstanding tasks.

We all know that meetings without purpose are counterproductive. Empower your employees to stop meetings that get off track. Don’t limit that thinking to just meetings — apply it to everything. Every employee should be able to challenge a process.

4. Say no to complexity. When you’re implementing new changes, managers will inevitably try to adjust systems to the way they used to work. Regardless of how compelling their reasons are, make it a habit to say “no.” While a few might get upset, the larger group will be happier with the simplicity and will benefit in the long run.

Improving employee engagement isn’t magic. To revolutionize employee engagement, cut back on the distracting tasks cluttering up the workplace. When you bring meaningful work back to the forefront, your employees will be motivated to put forth their best efforts and stay engaged with the company’s mission.

Daniel Kraft is president and CEO of Sitrion, which provides millions of people with a mobile and socially enabled workplace that’s tightly integrated with SAP, Microsoft SharePoint, Office 365, and Salesforce. Kraft, a public speaker on employee engagement and productivity, was featured on TEDx.

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