How Healthy Is Your Organization’s Employee Engagement?
How long has it been since you took the vital signs of your employees’ engagement in the organization? In our two decades of experience in this field, it still surprises us how often executives and their employees have polar-opposite feelings on the subject of engagement.
Executives generally believe that they have addressed the issue of engagement effectively. They refer to their monthly company meetings, their Friday pizza lunches, and their standard turnover rate. Management often thinks this is creating an adequate level of employee satisfaction and will go to any length to defend their ability to engage their employees.
But then you talk to the employees. Based upon surveying over 500,000 employees per year, too many:
- Are open to or expect to be working elsewhere within the next year.
- Believe their personal values are not fully congruent with the espoused or practiced corporate values.
- Don’t highly respect their boss.
- Don’t feel their boss fully respects or values them.
- Are unsure if the leaders are setting the right course in the right way.
- Question if the leaders of the organization value people as their most important resource.
- Don’t see how and where they can grow in their careers.
- Don’t find their job interesting or challenging enough.
Talk about a disconnect! If any of this sounds familiar, there is a clear need to re-evaluate and find out exactly the state of employee engagement at your organization. A comprehensive survey is certainly in order…then some quality employee engagement training so you don’t continue to make the same mistakes that got you in this mess in the first place.
You will discover what really matters to your employees. It’s not the large meetings, nor the pizzas per se, but what they stand for. Employees want to be appreciated and challenged. They want to feel as though they contribute meaningfully to the company. They want to believe in their future and in the future of the organization.
Here are the ways you can stem the outflow of your top talent and re-engage the employees you want to keep:
- Show that you care
Be sure your managers get to know their team members on an individual basis so that they understand the interests and passions of each one, both personally and professionally. Highly engaged employees find their job interesting and challenging, are able to play to their strengths, enjoy doing their work and believe that their job is in alignment with their career goals.
- Listen to them
Your employees can be the best source of ideas on how to improve the organization. They are at the ground level of operations and can see what no others see. Give them a voice on how to make things better and then act upon those suggestions that make sense. Highly engaged employees believe that leadership has communicated a motivating vision of the future, have enough information and resources to do their job well and know that the company listens to and takes employee ideas seriously.
- Appreciate them
Let them know often how much you value their contributions. And when they make extraordinary efforts, make sure you reward them appropriately. It may be a simple pat on the back or a more public thank you in a company-wide meeting. Or, of course, you can get more creative and generous with a morning off or a special bonus weekend away. Highly engaged employees feel they are paid fairly for the value they bring, believe that the leaders are committed to making it a great place to work, and see meaningful investments to make them more successful.
- Challenge them
The best workers, especially your top talent, like to be challenged. The same work day after day holds no long-term interest. Give them a chance to test themselves and to stretch in new and different ways. Highly engaged employees have a chance to learn and grow, feel empowered to make decisions that impact their work, are encouraged to find new ways of solving problems and have the freedom to improve products, processes, and services.
- Develop them
Be sure you provide the support and development they need to grow in their jobs. Help them define a path ahead so they know just what opportunities are available to them in the future. Highly engaged employees have been properly trained to do their own job, are cross-trained to do other jobs, and have consistent opportunities to learn new skills that will help them succeed.
- Trust them
Just as you want them to trust you as you follow through on your commitments, trust your employees to do the same. Set the example and then hold them accountable. This is how to build mutual respect among team members and increase their engagement overall. Highly engaged employees believe their leaders are honest and trustworthy, trust the leaders to lead the company to future success, feel loyal to their immediate team, can depend on members of their team, and have close and trusting relationships with one or more coworkers.