Engagement is the emotional connection employees have to their organization. Highly engaged employees believe in what they’re doing, feel a sense of ownership and will deliver more than what’s required in their roles; disengaged employees might not even come in on Mondays.
So if you want your people to a) show up and b) give 110%, here a few things to keep in mind.
Companies with higher employee engagement experience reduced absenteeism and turnover, fewer safety incidents and increased productivity and profitability. Engaged employees are better brand ambassadors, creating more positive customer experiences and therefore happier customers. Basically, an engaged workforce is a good thing.
More than money (or massages)
Engagement is boosted by positive working relationships, learning, development and progression opportunities, feeling valued (as people, not just as labor units) and being empowered. You can’t rely on increased compensation or office perks; they’re unlikely to make a difference to most people.
Growing companies have an advantage
Smaller companies tend to have higher engagement as teams are small, tight-knit and focused on the common goal. There’s nowhere for underperformers or poisonous personalities to hide, and it’s easy to recognize achievements. Of course, clearly communicating direction and hiring the right people are critical for reinforcing this culture!
Happiness is important, but it isn’t everything
People can be perfectly happy at work without being engaged; they’ll do their jobs but not necessarily go the extra mile. On the other hand, engagement can encourage happiness: highly engaged employees might overlook the little things – no coffee in the break room for example – that would make less engaged employees unhappy.
Managers are kind of a big deal
Engagement depends not only on what the company can offer, but the relationships people build in the workplace. Managers need support to promote individual engagement: build strong relationships, leverage strengths, encourage development, and discover everyone’s unique motivators. Baby Boomers in particular are likely to become more or less engaged as a result of management support (or lack thereof).
A very long engagement
People are usually engaged in their roles when they’re starting out, so the challenge is maintaining that commitment and enthusiasm throughout their careers. New employees are usually encouraged to innovate, enjoy individual attention and get continuous information about the company, expectations and performance. Continue in this vein, and give them ample opportunity to develop and progress.
So you’re engaged, or not. Now what?
You can easily hire a company to measure your engagement levels or do it yourself with a survey. But it’s not enough to measure – you need to collect actionable, relevant data so you can make changes as a result of your findings. If you ask employees if they have enough learning opportunities, be prepared to offer more if the answer is ’no’.
Engagement needs commitment
Running an engagement survey and not doing anything with the results is a surefire way to undermine your efforts; remember employees who don’t feel listened to are unlikely to engage. So if you want an engaged workforce, focus on engagement drivers, Always Be Communicating, lead from the front and model the values and behaviors you want to see in your people. It’ll pay off!