Employee engagement can be one of the greatest drivers of business success. According to the Hay Group, highly engaged employees can boost revenue growth by up to 250%. But the reverse is also true. A 2013 Gallup survey revealed that disengaged employees cost the US between $450 billion and $550 billion annually in lost productivity.
Employee engagement works by reducing absenteeism, improving productivity, lowering turnover, increasing job satisfaction, stimulating creativity and making employees more committed to the organization. In a nutshell, it helps an organization to fulfill its potential.
Therefore, every organization needs to maximize the level of engagement of its employees. The ultimate question is: how can an organization go about this? Well, here are a few tips which can be used to change the level of employee engagement within the organization.
1. Find Out The Level Of Employee Engagement
According to the 2013 State of the American Workplace survey carried out by Gallup, only 30% of American employees are engaged. 52% of employees are Disengaged, and 28% are Actively Disengaged. Basically, 70% of American employees are disengaged.
Although illuminating, these statistics say nothing about the level of engagement within YOUR organization. To carry out effective interventions, you need to find out how engaged or otherwise your employees are. Therefore, the first to changing engagement is to carry out an employee engagement survey within your organization.
The data unearthed from the survey will help you to set milestones to guide your interventions. Even as you plan to carry out the survey, here are a few tips which have been successfully used by other organizations to change the level of employee engagement.
2. Begin With The Managers
One of the biggest determinants of employee engagement is the quality of their relationship with managers. The Gallup survey found that a manager accounts for at least 70% variance in employee engagement. A similar sentiment was revealed in a Dale Carnegie survey which revealed that 80% of employees who are dissatisfied with a direct manager are disengaged.
Therefore, the first step forwards changing employee engagement is through ensuring that your managers are treating employees professionally. Key managerial attributes which positively correlate with engagement include good communication skills, interpersonal skills, offering constructive feedback and having an open-door policy (accepting feedback from employees).
3. Provide More Autonomy
One of the greatest causes of employee disengagement is micromanagement. When employees cannot make the simplest decisions around the workplace, they feel suffocated. As such, one trick which can be used to improve engagement is by providing workers with more autonomy. Autonomy is basically the ability of employees to control and influence how they manage their tasks, time and interactions around the workplace.
One simple strategy which can boost autonomy is adopting workplace flexibility. When employees have the freedom to choose their work schedules, locations and approaches, they feel more in control. This ultimately leaves them feeling more engaged. The Gallup study, for instance, found that employees who can choose to work remotely are more engaged than those who have no such choice.
4. Develop A People-Focused Culture
Employees are more than just units of production. They are people who have personal needs, dreams and aspirations. Above all, they desire to connect with other people around them. As such, one of the greatest drivers of engagement is a feeling of camaraderie in the workplace. When employees feel connected in a jovial or friendly manner to their colleagues, they will find their work more fulfilling. Therefore, one way of boosting engagement is to provide avenues through which employees can interact in fun and interesting ways.
Another way is through becoming sensitive to the employees’ beyond-work lives. This can be done through striving to provide employees with a work-life balance. It can also be done through designing benefits which address an employee’s unique needs. An example is offering paid maternity leaves. The point of a people-focused culture is making employees feel that they matter to the company as human beings – not just units of production.
5. Support Growth And Development
There are very few employees who want to remain static for the rest of their career. Most employees want to grow and develop their careers. Therefore, one effective strategy of improving engagement is to support employee growth and development.
This support can be as simple as sitting down with employees on an individual basis and asking them about their plans for career growth. A follow-up to this is offering helpful tips which they can use to advance within the organization.
The support can also come in the form of creating training programs which can help employees to facilitate their growth and development. Alternatively, it can come in the form of providing employees with flexible schedules so that they can acquire the development from elsewhere.
The best part about supporting growth and development is that it directly benefits the organization. When employees improve their knowledge and skills, their productivity almost certainly increases. And of course their level of engagement increases.
6. Offer Appreciation And Recognition
The desire to be appreciated is one of the most basic human needs. As such, appreciation is one of the simplest and most effective ways of improving employee engagement. The 2012 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey found that companies which use strategic recognition have a 23.4% lower rate of turnover than those which don’t. Lower turnover usually means that employees are more engaged.
Therefore, a simple strategy for improving engagement is by offering employees appreciation and recognition. This can be as simple as giving the employee a “thank-you” for a job well done. If the appreciation is delivered in the presence of their colleagues, it is even more powerful. Basically, adopting a policy of appreciating you employees can be an effective strategy for improving engagement.
In a nutshell, those are a few steps which organizations can take to improve employee engagement. However, it is important to note that engaging employees is a continuous process. It is not a limited-time event. Therefore, the best way to enjoy the benefits of employee engagement is to ingrain engagement as an essential part of the overall HR strategy.
SHRM/Globoforce (2012) Employee Recognition Survey. SHRM