Getting Started with Employee Engagement

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Getting Started with Employee Engagement

Getting Started with Employee Engagement

There has been a lot of focus on employee engagement in recent years and well there should be when one considers the astounding research findings such as:

  • Lack of employee engagement costs the American economy $300B+ per year (Gallup)
  • Companies with high levels of employee engagement enjoy a 28% increase in EPS vs. an 11.8% decline for companies with low levels
  • Only 1 in 4 workers in America is engaged (Gallup)

What specifically do we mean by Employee Engagement?  A recent synthesis of the literature on the topic by the Conference Board concludes:

“Engaged employees have a strong commitment to both their jobs and their organizations which leads them to do whatever it takes to make both successful.”

What exactly do engaged employees do that their non-engaged counterparts do not?

  • Look forward to coming to work
  • Take the initiative to more than the minimum required to keep their jobs
  • Look for ways to improve things
  • Deliver excellent customer service
  • Don’t leave
  • Talk enthusiastically about where they work to their friends

What causes an employee to become engaged?  Two necessary but insufficient factors are adequate compensation and benefits.  If these are not present, nothing else an organization can do will create engaged employees.  However, there are two additional components, commitment to job and commitment to organization, that are impacted by the organization and leadership.

Factors that impact commitment to job are:

  • A personal and caring relationship with the immediate manager (most important)
  • Consistent recognition and appreciation
  • Knowing what is expected in order to perform
  • An opportunity to grow and develop skills
  • A good job/person match from the perspective of abilities, traits and interests
  • As much autonomy as possible to perform
  • Pleasant cooperative coworkers

Organizational commitment is driven by:

  • Trust and integrity from senior management
  • Open and honest communication from the top
  • Clear connection between individual effort and organizational outcomes
  • Identification with the mission/values of the organization
  • Opportunities for career growth

Do you know whether your employees are engaged or not?  The best way to find out is to administer a survey which measures the job and organizational commitment factors.  However, you must be prepared to act on the results of the survey even if they are not what you expected.  To survey and then not act, creates more dissatisfaction than not surveying.  Once the survey results are analyzed and disseminated, an effective approach for identifying specific action steps is to involve employee groups at all levels in the design and implementation of action plans.  You should also develop metrics that will allow you to track your progress as you implement action strategies.  Regular employee focus groups and resurveying are only two approaches.

The action plans should be driven by the results of the survey, but some of the more common things that can be done include:

  • Give employees as much autonomy as possible in deciding how to perform their jobs
  • Connect individual effort to the bottom line
  • Train managers at all levels on the concepts and drivers of employee engagement
  • Hold managers accountable for engagement levels
  • Increase senior management face time with employees
  • Use assessments to ensure a good person/job match
  • Honest communication of company performance
  • Recognize and reward achievement
  • Develop career paths and succession planning at all levels
  • Make career discussion a part of all reviews

Whatever you do, a successful program for employee engagement must start at the top and be fully committed to by top management.  Engagement is not an HR effort and in many cases will require a fundamental realignment of the company culture to one that supports a climate of employee engagement.  All of the “people systems” must be examined and changed if necessary to support an engagement culture.  Included are recruitment, compensation, incentives, communications, performance management and policies regarding time off, sick leave, etc.

Going back to the research, if you are not pursuing high levels of employee engagement in your organizations, you are leaving real money on the table!  Fortis Leadership can help assess, design and implement employee engagement programs in your organization.

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