7 Characteristics of a Highly Engaged Workforce
Employee engagement…it may be a goal that some find hard to reach but it’s not rocket science. In fact it’s rather simple to list just what it takes to achieve the kind of work environment where you might well hear, “I love my job.”
Just a few simple statistics should convince you that the goal is worth the effort. Our studies conducted over our two decades in the employee engagement training field show that engaged workers are almost 50% more productive and effective than their unengaged coworkers. Highly engaged workers also create significantly less unwanted turnover and consistently speak more highly of the company – its leaders, managers, employees, products, quality and future outlook. Do you need more incentive than that?
Here are seven characteristics of a highly engaged culture and the measures you should take to boost the engagement level of your workers and, at the same time, your overall productivity.
- A vision that is clearly understood and deeply resonates.
Employees need to know why they do what they do. What is it that, ultimately, the company stands for? Think of Zappos, the online retailer, that is founded on “wow” service. Every single worker understands that it is their mission to deliver superior service to their customers…they believe in the vision, they model their behavior accordingly and they are loyal to the internal and external brand Zappos has established. Engaged workers believe that company leadership has communicated a clear, compelling and personally motivating vision of the future.
- A trusting environment.
Strong relationships (and companies) are built on trust. If you want your employees to build strong relationships up, down and sideways, you need to see that commitments are kept and that transparency and accountability is pervasive. Highly engaged employees have close and trusting relationships with one or more coworkers, trust the leaders to set the right direction, feel loyal to their team, believe the leaders are honest and trustworthy and can depend on the other members of their team.
- Strong, effective managers.
Employee engagement is directly linked to the way employees perceive their immediate supervisor or manager. When managers are clear in what employees need to do and fair in their treatment of the team, they are respected and appreciated for their leadership. When managers give conflicting, confusing directions and inadequate feedback, employees are left without the guidelines they need to reach both team and individual goals. Highly engaged employees have managers who care about their development, regularly give constructive performance feedback and ensure open and honest communication between employees and managers.
- Opportunities to grow.
Nobody is happy in a dead end job. Keep employees engaged with new challenges and relevant training. When the path ahead is promising, employees continue to strive to do their best and to reach ever higher goals. Highly engaged employees have opportunities to learn new skills that will help them succeed, learn and grow.
- Meaningful appreciation.
Engaged employees feel that their contributions to the team and to the company as a whole are meaningful and appreciated. Find a way to recognize and reward outstanding effort and achievement. As a manager make sure that you make investments so your people can be more successful while you reward people fairly for the value they bring.
- Clear expectations.
Employees who know just what is expected of them and how their performance is to be measured understand where they are headed and the standards for excellence. Team goals have been established and each team member knows their part in achieving collective targets.
- Open communication.
Whispers behind closed doors breed suspicion. Team leaders should model straightforward communication where different points of view are respected and every team member has a voice. The front line workers often have a valuable perspective on how things could be handled more effectively. Their ideas should be invited, heeded and, when appropriate, acted upon. Make sure that everyone on your team is satisfied with the information they receive, is well informed about issues going on within the company and that you listen to and take employee ideas seriously.