One of the biggest obstacles that we face as managers and executives is to find new ways to increase employee engagement. We have check-in meetings, we buy lunches, and we host fun social events, but there is also a less obvious way of engaging employees: give them a difficult assignment.
As an employee the opportunity to “not work” at work always seems appealing, but often times the most satisfying part of a job can be the successful completion of a difficult assignment. Sure we all like to sit around and surf the web at work, but there are only so many videos you can watch of baby pigs being spoon-fed before you get bored.
A survey by the Society for Human Resource management found that the top driver of job satisfaction is “the opportunity to use skills and abilities”. Beyond that, we believe that employees not only want their skills to be used at work, but they also want to be challenged and given the opportunity to expand those skills. Once you recognize your employees need to feel challenged, we suggest the following ideas:
- Give them more difficult or more complex assignments that expand on the work that they are already doing. But remember not to overload them or ask them to juggle too many things at once.
- Invite your employee to work on something that they are not familiar with, or something outside of their regular expertise. Let them learn as they go and teach themselves until they become comfortable with the new project and have mastered new skills.
- Have them apply their expertise to a new problem or different department. Using their skills to help expand or assist an area that they do not usually work with will help them to feel more accomplished and important.
They main key when challenging your employees is to make sure you are not stretching them too thin. Gauge their workload and if their job has been running smoothly for a while before assigning them a big challenge. And although it will be important for your employees to stop and celebrate their success or just catch their breath, many of them will be ready and willing for their next challenge sooner than you think.