Employee engagement continues to be an increasingly hot area as more and more businesses recognize that employee engagement directly impacts all aspects of the business, including the bottom line.
How timely, then, that the Gallup Organization has released their latest findings for the state of employee engagement in America.
Good news/bad news. Nothing much has changed. Only about 30% of American workers are actively engaged in their jobs. Just 30%! That means that less than one third of workers are both satisfied with their job and their company as a place to work and are actively making contributions to further their company’s cause.
What about the rest?
52% are simply not engaged. They may feel indifferent about their job and put in just enough work to stay “below the radar.”
The other 18% are actively disengaged, or poison. They may share their bad attitudes with other coworkers or even with clients, miss work, or even steal from the company.
These stats should alarm you and drive you to action.
Remember, they’re just statistics. These are employee engagement averages for across the country. They don’t have to be true for your company.
But the alarming truth is unless you’re tackling employee engagement head on, they’re probably closer to reality than you’d like to believe.
Why Bother With Employee Engagement?
One of my clients summed it up best when he said, “I hire people to do a job. I pay them good money to do that job. Why should I care about ‘soft’ things like employee engagement and whether people are happy?”
(I kid you not. People really make such statements to me.)
I’ll give you two reasons.
First, just like you hired your employees to do a job and expect them to be professional, you too are a professional and have a job to do.
The thing to realize, as more and more leaders today are realizing, is that your job description contains – and always has contained – certain duties regarding the care and feeding of employees, their personal and professional growth. These duties are the same activities that give rise to employee engagement. When you’re asked to pay attention to employee engagement, you’re not being asked to do something new. You’re being asked to do your job in as professional a manner possible.
Second, because employee engagement is not theory. Mounting masses of employee engagement research shows that when employee engagement is high, so to is:
- Employee Retention
- Customer Satisfaction
You should bother with employee engagement because it is at the heart of making a business run effectively.
So How Do We Foster Employee Engagement?
1) Demonstrate Clear Leadership of the Business
A large part of employee engagement starts with employees knowing where they fit in the goals and long-term strategy of the business.
But an amazing number of businesses I work with don’t have strong long-term goals or strategies, or their decision making isn’t guided by an overall plan so much as it is by the hustle and bustle of everyday tasks.
We’ve all lived through this daily grind, but the problem is it doesn’t inspire confidence. It doesn’t inspire belief that we’re the leaders to follow – the leaders with the definite plans that will lead to success. More often than not, it leads to rapid, seemingly contradictory changes in decisions, which only serve to bolster the belief that following us dangerous at best.
To lead others and get them truly engaged, it makes sense that it starts with knowing what you’re leading them toward, and why. The ability to articulate goals and a strategic plan is crucial. But frankly, so are the basics like speaking to your vision and the company’s mission.
These basics, speaking to the direction of the business and how the staff fits in, are a critical part of employee engagement because they help let each person know they belong and contribute something valuable.
2) Establish Clear Expectations
People need boundaries. Not only do they need them, they want them.
Establishing clear expectations for individual staff is so critical to employee engagement. First, it defines what success in the position looks like. When expectations are defined fully and well, there is no mystery as to what it takes to succeed in a job.
Second, it helps map out for an employee how to grow their work related skills. If they’d like to excel at their job, the entire skill base is laid out for them to see and work on.
Clear expectations communicates to employees exactly what is expected of them. When present, there are few if any surprises, and that’s an important part of fostering employee engagement.
3) Develop the Whole Employee
In the last point, I talked about developing work related skills. But there’s more to an employee than learning new procedures or tasks.
Each employee brings with him or her different ways of communicating with others – some of which may be more beneficial than others. And each brings certain natural competencies and strengths – things like the ability to give spoken or written presentations, self-leadership, leadership of others, etc.
Employee engagement takes off when you invest the time to discover these natural strengths and develop each in the context of the employee’s position.
Fortunately there are easier ways today to get an accurate read on a person’s natural strengths. Assessments like the TriMetrixHD assessment gives highly accurate feedback on a person’s communication, motivations, competencies, and general acumen. For more information, just contact me.
Don’t be the 30%
Remember, 30% is just a statistic. It doesn’t have to be that way for your organizations.
If it is right now, take a single step today to make a change.
Leadership and employee engagement are opposite sides of the same coin. Every step you take towards one simply makes your organization that much better overall.