Understand and impact employee engagement

Several organizations, including Gallup and the Hay Group have done extensive research and reporting on levels of employee engagement.  No matter what report you read, the results are not positive for organizations.

According to Gallup, the percentage of employees worldwide who are actively engaged is 13%. Employees who are actively engaged have a strong commitment to the company and their goals, and most importantly, go beyond what is expected of them to create value for the organization.  This means that  87% of employees are either disengaged or actively disengaged.

So, most of your employees are not going above and beyond, not actively looking out for your company, and probably doing the bare minimum of the expectations of their jobs.  Some can have an even more toxic effect by publicly vocalizing or exhibiting dissatisfaction. This does not bode well for your organization and its results. Organizations with the best engagement ratings experienced higher productivity, higher profitability, better customer ratings, better safety, as well as lower absenteeism and turnover than organizations with the lowest engagement ratings.

What can you do about employee engagement?

It goes beyond annual surveys, especially if your organization doesn't have discipline around using the information to take action. Rather, engagement must be something woven into the fabric of your organization--it is something that must be present daily. Every day, people must feel like they are valued, are surrounded by talented peers and managers, and have the tools they need to do their jobs.

If you utilize a survey, make sure you are measuring engagement, not satisfaction--they are not the same thing. The most satisfied employees can be the least engaged.  Being satisfied, or happy with your circumstances, does not equate to doing your best every day. I might love that my company offers on-site haircut and dry cleaning services, foosball tables and free candy on Fridays, but it doesn't mean I am committed to doing my best. It may mean I love being able to spend my time preparing for my favorite bar's annual foosball tournament while I am at work.

Either way, you should take a holistic approach, starting with making sure you have clarity on what your culture and core values are. From there, you must carefully select those people who align with your culture and values. There will be people who don't align, so making sure not to hire those people in the first place can save you from handling it later on.  Companies with the best engagement results incorporate engagement into the strategies they develop, their approach to rewards and accountability, and into their organizational communications.

Any holistic approach must include equipping your managers with the knowledge they need to impact engagement. The role of managers in employee engagement can not be understated. They are the most important factor in the engagement level of their direct reports. Nearly 70% of U.S. employees said they would work harder if their efforts were better appreciated. A little recognition can go a long way in helping your great employees feel appreciated and more likely to stick around. Managers also have the critical role of translating company strategy and results for their teams, and helping individuals understand where they fit into the big picture of the company. Having great managers who communicate effectively, and most importantly, get to know their teams as individuals, can drive your engagement levels, and therefore, your organization’s results, forward.

Employees say they need:

-To understand the company's vision and values.

-To be heard.

-To have a culture of authentic and transparent communication.

-To know what to do on the job.

-To be recognized and acknowledged for superior performance.

-A setting where discussion of performance and progress occur frequently.

-Opportunities for growth.

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