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Winning your one-on-ones: Why managers are crucial to increasing employee engagement

Rachel Argot
2/24/22 9:00 AM

Sending out a quick, bulleted instructional email might be the new and preferred way to hold a work meeting, but by doing so, you may be missing out on an opportunity to develop a one-on-one relationship between you and your team. It’s always important to check in with your employees, but as a manager, now is a critical time to hone your own leadership skills and update the systems of your organization. More intentional, meaningful one-on-ones can improve workplace communication and boost overall employee engagement.


The effects of COVID have dramatically changed the way employees operate. Early pandemic, remote office work was not an added benefit. It was a desperate quick fix for a long-term problem: to keep employees healthy and safe. Current fluctuating finance markets means economic hardship and, as a result, unforeseen resignations and layoffs. The new year enforces new company goals and trends. These ongoing issues are real-life examples of how external factors can directly affect employee performance and engagement levels. As a manager, it is important to use your one-on-one meetings to communicate and listen to the physical and emotional needs of your employees. 

The employee experience starts and ends with managers. Managers are gatekeepers of engagement and translators of culture. Encourage an environment that practices active listening and nurtures constructive feedback. Find out where your employees see themselves within the company. A sense of security and belonging is increasingly critical to engaging and retaining talent. The new year is a great time to touch base on how both you and your employee see the rest of the year playing out, wider company goals, setting individual targets, and overall employee satisfaction going into a new year. Understand that no two employees are the same and their list of wants will differ. As a manager, employee engagement is all dependent on how successful you are in creating a work environment that promotes the idea and importance of employee well-being. 

There are two ways in which your one-on-one meetings will improve overall employee engagement.

1. Employees become more effective.

The one-on-one meetings develop a sense of accountability that inspires employees. Increased engagement happens when employees are happy. When you invest in a person, less in what they do, but more in who they are, they are more motivated to produce work that they are proud and passionate about. 

2. Employees become more efficient.

Your one-on-one meetings should incorporate some type of coaching that improves and upskill the credentials of your workers. As mentioned in our 2022 workplace trends piece, power skills are crucial to creating and maintaining  a successful business. “Get excited about training your good employees so that they become great ones.” These skills allow for faster and smoother operations and engagement.

Communicate and recognize employee performance using an integrated employee recognition program. Check in by first elevating employee engagement through the use of a system that recognizes and rewards employees for their contributions to the organization, then use the acknowledgment as a starting point to dig deeper. Much like relational and transactional loyalty, manager conversations contribute the qualitative analysis of employee wellbeing and engagement. Meaningful, timely, and sometimes spontaneous conversations serve as a benchmark for employee sentiment. They let employees know they matter.

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