A very forward thinking organization asked me to come facilitate a session with their employees regarding employee engagement. This is good news for their employees because it means that their leaders understand that the first step to improving employee engagement is to have open conversation about what it means – and how to make it happen!
An “engaged” employee is one who is fully involved and even enthusiastic about their work! The engaged employee will act in ways that enhance the organization’s success – even when no one is looking. They do it because they believe in what they are doing – they believe in their employer – and they have found deep satisfaction in what they do.
There have been many studies done on Employee Engagement. There is no question that organizations that have higher numbers of employees who are “engaged” have higher profit and productivity margins. They have proven records of being more innovative and of having higher customer satisfaction ratings. Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace Report informs us that according to their massive research and survey efforts, 52% of American workers are doing what they must to get by. Only 30% are loyal and productive. That means of course, that 18% are unhappy – and sharing that news with anyone who will listen.
In our workshop, we had a great discussion about what behaviors can be observed in employees who are engaged, versus those who are not. This exercise helps us to diagnose what may be going on in particular work environments and to gain insight into ways to increase employee engagement.
I asked participants in our workshop to list factors that they believe are keeping employees in their organization, engaged. I showed them what the experts say – from multiple sources of research. It’s clear that the direct boss has a big impact. Belief and confidence in senior leadership is critical. And, employees who are able to use their strengths (as opposed to being beat up over their weaknesses) are much more likely to be engaged.
When given the opportunity to decide on their top engagement drivers (through a multi-voting process), these participants enjoyed the open discussion that ensued. It was very interesting to put aside the research and talk specifically about their organization. We concluded the workshop with specific ideas about how to employ the drivers they identified as most critical.
The very good news in all of this is that Gallup research has shown that employee engagement increases at all levels of tenure as employees participate in initiatives aimed at improving their engagement!
I sincerely hope more organizations will take the time to have this conversation with employees and then move forward in putting into practice those initiatives that will work in their environment. I have no doubt this organization will succeed!