Employee Engagement - The Key to Moving Your Organization from Good to Extraordinary
Author Name: TrainingABC
Posted: 06-17-2018 06:47 PM
Synopsis: According to a recent survey by Gallup only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged in their job. In the United States alone this results in a loss of between 450-550 million per year. Companies who have captured employee engagement have a tremendous advantage over those that haven't. So how do you make a change? While it's not easy, there are steps that you can take immediately to move your organization from simply good to extraordinary!
Most of us seek that sweet mix of work-life balance, but work clearly takes up a significant part of our day-to-day lives. Whether we spend about one-third (or more) of our days or work, it becomes murky when analyzing how we actually spend that time.
In other words, it’s fair to say that employees do not maximize their time at work.
While there can be many reasons for this trend (including general disinterest, distractions from out-of-work events, or simply laziness), many companies exhibit poor employee engagement.
As managers, we need to ensure that employees feel a connection to not only their work and their colleagues, but with the organization where they work.
In sum, we need to improve and emphasize employee engagement in the workplace.
But let’s back up. What exactly is employee engagement?
Simply put, it is the level of commitment, passion, and loyalty that any given employee has to a company or organization. It is not the same thing as employee satisfaction (which only measures employees’ levels of happiness and content). Rather, employee engagement looks at employees’ involvement and emotional connection with the company.
A satisfied employee does not automatically mean that the same employee is engaged at work.
The fact of the matter is that most employees aren’t engaged at work. According to a Gallop survey, only 13 percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work. The situation is slightly better in the United States, as 33 percent of employed residents feel like they are engaged at work. Ultimately, this low engagement rate costs America $450 to $550 billion in lost productivity.
Whether it’s a subpar work culture, lack of confidence in managers, or something else, many employees don’t feel connected to the organization and its mission.
Why It’s Important
Considering the discussion above, it seems like a smart idea to prioritize employee engagement. But with so many disengaged employees out there and all of the effort that is required to increase employee engagement, is it a worthwhile effort?
There are countless benefits to making an effort to increase employee engagement within your organization.
To start, higher employee engagement leads to better outcomes for customers. Employees who are committed to the organization’s mission and goals are more likely to go the extra mile to ensure that customers are satisfied. He or she doesn’t offer subpar service and breeze through customers in order to meet a sales quota. Instead, the employee understands how the company can help customers and ensures that he or she is solving their customers’ problems. Ultimately, the close connection that they feel with their company translates over into the service that customers receive. Customers are happier, employees feel more engaged with the organization, and the cycle continues.
Higher employee engagement also leads to more employee effort. Employees who are engaged with your organization are simply willing to sacrifice more for the organization. They are willing to put in more hours to create the best product or service for your organization. They care not only about the organization and its mission, but their colleagues and customers. They don’t want to let anyone down. By contrast, in an organization with low levels of employee engagement, employees are more likely to clock out early, they aren’t willing to take on extra work, and they don’t feel a sense of camaraderie with their colleagues and with the organization.
Finally, high levels of employee engagement lead to higher levels of employee retention. Employees are more likely to stay at your organization if they have an emotional connection with the organization’s work and overall mission. It makes it harder for them to leave since these engaged employees generate a sense of ownership and pride of their work with the organization. Those organizations that have low levels of employee engagement make it easy for employees to leave, as those employees simply don’t have that sense of connection with the organization that would make it difficult for them to leave.
How Do We Achieve It
Now that we know why employee engagement is important, we come to the crucial question:
How do we increase employee engagement within our organizations?
It can be difficult to answer, and there is no quick and easy fix. Having said that, below are some strategies that may increase the odds that your employees will feel more engaged.
First, ensure that you are delivering clear communication, direction, and priorities to your employees. Employees feel less engaged when they not only don’t understand some element of a discrete task, but why they are working on the task in the first place. If managers fail to clearly communicate or fail to follow-up with employees as necessary, employees will start feeling discouraged.
They start thinking, “If my manager can’t clearly describe what he or she wants and isn’t open to clarifying, then how can I do my best work for the organization?”
Like in any relationship, unclear communication (or the absence of communication) can lead to feelings like confusion, frustration, and animosity. They don’t feel a strong, personal connection with their managers and the organization. In the end, they may simply go through the motions when delivering their work product.
To avoid this fate, managers must clearly communicate their expectations for each employee. Perhaps more importantly, they must keep the channels open during the workday, so that both manager and employee can iterate on the day’s assignments. This doesn’t mean micromanaging; instead, managers should occasionally check-in to ensure that employees understand the tasks and why their projects are important to the organization.
Ultimately, by staying on the same page, employees feel more comfortable and avoid feelings of confusion and frustration.
Next, managers can increase employee engagement by building a culture that prioritizes praise and compliments. Granted, employees are expected to do their jobs. That said, a simple “thank you” or personalized compliment can go a long way in inspiring and motivating an employee.
Simple acts of gratitude show the employee that you notice his or her contribution to your organization and that you appreciate all of their hard work. It humanizes you as a manager and shows the employee that you are willing to give credit to others instead of seeking praise only for yourself.
As for delivering the compliments or praise, you can make it as formal or informal as you’d like. For instance, you can give public compliments to high-performing employees at a weekly meeting. Or you can make it less public, either by delivering the compliment or praise in-person or by sending a thoughtful email. However you do it, you want to ensure that you are delivering sincere, honest praise. Insincere praise will do more harm than good.
By opening up and complimenting your employees, you build a sense of camaraderie within your workforce. You show employees that you respect them and their contributions to the organization. By sending this signal, your employees will more likely be inspired to continue working hard for your organization and will feel a deeper connection with the organization itself.
Lastly, to increase employee engagement within an organization, managers should place a greater emphasis on career development. While there are some exceptions, it is fair to say that most employees want to gain more status, responsibilities, and pay. If employees see that there is a way to do great work, take on more responsibility, and build their career, they are likely to be more fully engaged within your organization.
There are obviously different ways to emphasize career development. Your organization can have a formal career development program, where employees receive a mentor who provides guidance as employees work toward their goals. As a manager, you can hold monthly meetings where promoted managers share their career development tips with lower-level employees. Or you can work one-on-one with your employees to determine what their career goals are and how you can best help them achieve their goals.
Critically, if your organization doesn’t offer those opportunities, employees are more likely to start looking for opportunities outside of your organization. But by making an effort to emphasize career development, you show your employees that you care about their future careers. That showing of caring can build higher levels of employee engagement.
Buck The Trend
In a world where many employees feel disengaged with their jobs, we must work extra hard to ensure that this trend doesn’t fester within our organizations. The failure to take action can result in lower profits, a weaker organizational culture, and higher employee turnover.
But lucky for us, there are some strategies that we can use to turn the tide in our favor. By clearly communicating with employees, building a culture that prioritizes praise and compliments, and emphasizing career development, we are in a better position to ensure that our employees are engaged. While the stakes are high, the power is in our hands to turn a common liability into an organizational asset.
A great way to start improving your company's employee engagement is through training on leadership.