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How to be a Supportive Boss to Enhance Employee Engagement

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

Whether you are a supervisor recently appointed or you have years of experience and want to figure out how to help your team, you are already one step ahead.

Most managers do not realize how important it is to support their team members so they can work more efficiently.

In fact, increasing sales and making profits are the most important goals for a business, but these goals can be achieved and maintained with engaged employees.

The importance of supportive behavior

According to Sarah Landrum from Forbes, Millennials' job satisfaction increases when they feel encouraged by their supervisor and so does the company's success.

Building a solid relationship takes effort on both sides - employer and employee - and the result improves not only company performance, but also the quality of products, services and the work environment.

Supervisors influence everything that happens in a company. A helpful supervisor changes employees' lives and increases productivity. A bad boss makes life difficult for the staff and sabotages productivity.

According to a Gallup employee survey, 71% of employees are dissatisfied with their jobs and half of them plan to quit within a year. What's causing this problem, you ask? 70% of employee dissatisfaction is due to management.

Supportive supervisors are 59% more likely to retain their team. The report defines supportive management by the following characteristics: It helps employees set goals, focuses on improving their skills, and is accessible for conversation.

What do employees expect from their bosses?

First of all, effective communication! When employees do not receive the updates from their supervisor, they look for it elsewhere. The old statement "people do not change careers, they change bosses" still holds true.

According to a Gallup study, leaders are the single most important factor in employee engagement and loyalty. The surprising conclusion comes when we relate these findings to recent business research: If disengagement is a problem, perhaps we should look to leaders for answers.

The problem is urgent, but the solution is also immediate: If bosses were to change their behavior toward more supportive leadership, and empathy, perhaps the crisis of employee disengagement would begin to improve.

Good management can go a long way toward keeping employees engaged overall to maintain an excellent workforce that helps achieve business goals and move the company forward. According to Gallup, companies with engaged employees beat their competitors by 147% in earnings per share.

For employees who are fully dedicated to their work, it's more than just the salary - it's their commitment to their role that drives them to work with enthusiasm and ultimately contribute to the company's success.

According to a study by APA, employee engagement doubles when supervisors are supportive. Employees are more likely to engage when their supervisor acts as a partner and fosters a culture of integrity and openness. When employee well-being is a priority, customer satisfaction also increases.

Employee engagement increases when employees have a likable boss. Building deeper professional understanding, on the other hand, requires the participation of all members - managers and employees alike. Therefore, supervisors should check in frequently, provide constructive feedback, and maintain an "open door policy."

Employees should be encouraged to ask for advice when they are unsure. The result improves company profitability and raises the bar for performance and work environment.

In addition, these techniques create a fertile environment for creativity and innovation. Employees who work with supportive managers are not afraid to come up with new ideas because they do not have to worry about being reprimanded.

With the help of supervisors, their concepts are refined, leading to greater competence and capacity. This underscores the importance of having a positive supervisor.

This includes "walking his talk," which has a dramatic effect on employee enthusiasm and creativity.

Supervisors who do not put into practice what they teach can appear hypocritical and have double standards, which could alienate employees.

A supportive supervisor will start the workday on time, perhaps even earlier than most employees, will take a pay cut if their colleagues do the same due to budget constraints, will participate in process improvement events or follow the same office rules. Team mebers will be motivated to emulate the same positive behaviors when they work for a boss who shows enthusiasm and commitment.

Finally, supportive supervisors can completely change the culture by creating a secure environment where employees can work without fear of toxicity in the workplace, knowing that their boss will resolve any conflicts or concerns.

Thanks to this approach, employees' mental health is maintained and burnout is avoided. The value of an encouraging boss is outstanding in the current post-pandemic environment, where the entire workforce is recovering and craving inclusive leadership. Being an encouraging boss can change the company 180 degrees for the better.

How can you be a supportive boss?

Supportive actions bosses can take to boost employee engagement include being available for conversations, encouraging strengths, not weaknesses, helping to set achievable goals and appreciate them when a good job done to feel valued.

Perhaps a company already has a reboarding plan. It likely focuses primarily on compliance and implementing health and wellness initiatives, such as employee assistance and stress management programs.

These are important core elements, but they do not always meet the unspoken criterion of getting the job done. Therefore, a supportive boss shows sincere compassion for team members and interest in their well-being.

Your company may need a restructuring process after the pandemic to intentionally redesign jobs and the workplace to meet current needs.

A reboarding plan brings your company culture into focus and gives leaders a detailed plan for creating a good workplace culture in the hybrid workplace.

Reboarding can be more than just a reflection of past work practices. It should be deliberate, purposeful and relevant to all team members, regardless of their tenure or region.

After the pandemic, well-functioning organizations may not need to be completely redesigned, but they will need to recalibrate the factors of their culture to adapt to the changed way of working. Developing new ways to collaborate effectively in such a growing work environment is necessary for all employees, regardless of their role or length of service.

The organizational environment is shaped by five important factors that influence how employees behave, the decisions they make, and how they perform their jobs.

Organizations that ensure these five principles are followed enable managers and workers to successfully adapt to changing work patterns, including mixed groups, variable working conditions and new standards.

Communicate and lead

The way a company's leaders develop, present and communicate their mission and brand impacts whether employees take these principles to heart.

Gallup found that overall employee job satisfaction increased during the pandemic, which was somewhat surprising. This increase was attributed to managers being more open and communicative with the workforce.

According to a Stammer article by Bacha, this increased participation declined and eventually stagnated. High engagement rate was unsustainable because history has shown that leaders return to less contact once a disaster is believed to be over. They may not even follow up their promises with practical action.

To maintain trust in leadership, review corporate communications, ensure that decisions are based on corporate principles, and link promises and statements to observable leadership behavior, organizational rules, and employee requirements.

Rituals and values

Values and rituals set the tone for how team members interact and complete tasks. Core values are views that an organization strives for all its employees, serving as a compass to a good job standard and promise to team members and consumers, and put to the test in a crisis.

Traditions are deeply ingrained in us, and it is difficult to abandon them without developing new habits. That's why companies must consciously develop new habits that can withstand changing work patterns.

Human capital

To succeed in this digital century of work, companies must build human-centered employee engagement that supports their mission, identity and culture. Employees should feel valued and appreciated frequently in a well functioning organization.

Every decision HR makes, including hiring, recruiting and training, should take into account how intertwined people's work lives are with their personal lives as technology continues to blur the lines.

Work groups and organizational structures

As traditional teams become increasingly unpopular in practice, companies should adopt new ways of working, whether in the form of mixed groups, hybrid work schedules or a combination of both.

Instead of wistfully reminiscing, organizations now have the opportunity to deconstruct outdated systems and replace them with new practices that remove barriers to meaningful, purposeful performance.


Performance management strategies must serve an organization's mission, communicate its brand message and promote the culture it seeks to achieve, from goal setting to transparency to compensation and other benefits.

Leaders ultimately determine the organization's infrastructure and effectiveness and ensure appropriate implementation.


The widespread disruption of workflow caused by the pandemic has accelerated the transition to telework for many people.

Most organizations did not have time to evolve or adapt. It just happened. Managers now have the time (and resources) to rethink their future decisions.

Help your employees adapt to working in this new age by supporting them with targeted, strategic reboarding initiatives that are efficiently executed across the five components of the business environment.

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