Much has been said and written about EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT. It is often voiced in a basic statement, “We must have an engaged workforce.” But what exactly do we mean when we say that?
Employees are considered engaged when the many different levels of employees in a business are fully involved and enthusiastic about their jobs, how those jobs add value to the business and the business itself. It is their willingness and ability to contribute to the businesses overall success. This includes their doing more than their jobs by giving extra time, thought and effort.
In a time of challenges relating to attracting and retaining talent in businesses, engagement should be more than a word or idea. It has to have value. A Conference Board study in 2006 stated that engaged workforces outperform non-engaged workforces by 20 to 28 percent. When you consider that a Recent Gallup Survey stated that more than half of all workers in the US are not engaged and that 17 percent are completely disengaged, that clearly means that only 24 percent of the workforce is engaged. That is a significant loss in performance, productivity, and profitability.
In order for a workforce to be engaged it must be in an environment that encourages and fosters engagement. The keys to this culture are:
Two way feedback – this is more than suggestion boxes and surveys. It would also include townhall meetings and “management by walking around” where you talk with employees to learn their ideas and concerns.
Trust in Leadership – Without trust you have nothing. Employees need to know you will keep your word, not constantly change plans or direction of the business. It requires you communicate a clear vision and consistently and constantly communicate that.
Career/Skill Development – Know what your employees need to develop in their careers and skills, then help them accomplish those. Cross training, cross assignments and educational programs are ways to do this.
Employee’s understanding their role in the businesses success – help them to understand the importance of their skills and the value they bring to the business. This is more than simply telling them they have a place, they have to understand what their role contributes as well as what the roles of others contribute to the success of the business. Show them how they contribute to the businesses success.
Shared decision making – let them participate in decision making. This is accomplished by allowing them to not only participate but to make tactical decisions regarding their work.
This, in turn, creates certain outputs or results. Without both, you not only do not have an effective engagement application in your workplace. With them, you create a workforce where the culture becomes the norm. In other words, instead of we don’t do things like that here you have this is how we do things here.
These outputs and they can be measured to completely demonstrate their effectiveness are:
- Increased organizational performance
- Increased productivity
- Increased profitability
- Employee retention
There are many things you can do to accomplish this. Much like all of the conversations regarding employee engagement, there are many different tools you can use. Some key tools you can use to help develop this are:
Effective onboarding of new employees – Don’t just bring a new employee into your business and make them go to work. Also, do not consider an onboarding program to simply be a “fill out these forms” exercise followed by a safety film. Establish a program that assesses the actual skill level of your new hire and then follow that up with specific job focused training to strengthen those areas in need. Give them feedback during their initial period and whatever you do, do not establish a “probationary period” that sets a tone for “do or be fired.”
Coaching and mentoring programs for employees – Not only is this important for establishing your new hires as productive members of your team, it is also important for your existing employees as well as yourself. Having an internal or external resource for them to be coached and mentored on their role and their professional growth is critical to their, and your businesses, success.
Career planning for employees – Employees want to grow. They want to be better at what they do and they want to learn new things. Finding out their goals and then helping them achieve those through growth assignments and training/educational programs will be a high-value investment for you both.
Large group or all-hands meetings and gatherings – Bring all of them together. Share your plans and challenges. Ask the group for input and ideas. This will help foster a greater team environment while building an understanding of their role in the businesses success.
An engaged workforce is a productive and profitable workforce. The time, effort and money you put into developing that will add significant value your business.
Want to know more? Ask me, I’m here to help.
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