Published: February 07, 2018 | Comments
Isn’t it interesting when we hear something is everyone’s responsibility, the reality is it means that it’s no one’s responsibility? There’s a lot of truth to that because if we don’t commit to something, it doesn’t happen, and it falls through the cracks.
That's exactly what has been happening to Employee Engagement over the years. According to Gallup, the percentage of engaged employees in the US has been hovering around the 33% mark for almost 20 years. The percentage of engaged employees worldwide is worse, around 15%.
Why Has Employee Engagement Remained So Low?
There are a number of reasons.
Companies are still unclear on what employee engagement is and how to improve it.
There is no real consensus on what it is. Many definitions are floating around, but Gallup defines an engaged employee as "an employee who is involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace."
Companies need to get clear on what employee engagement is so they can understand how to improve it.
Leaders still don’t see the connection between employee engagement and performance.
There is plenty of data to prove that engaged workers significantly impact the bottom line. According to Gallup’s 2017 State of The American Workplace report, disengaged employees cost the U.S. between $483-605B each year in lost productivity. Conversely, business units that score in the top quartile of their organization in employee engagement outperform bottom-quartile business units by 10% more customer loyalty/engagement, 17% higher productivity, 20% higher sales, and 21% higher profitability.
In its 2017 Employee Engagement Benchmark study, The Temkin Group found that better-performing companies have more engaged employees. According to their research, 82% of employees at companies with strong financial results are “highly” or “moderately” engaged, as opposed to only 68% at under-performing companies.
Aon Hewitt’s 2017 Trends in Global Employee Engagement report found that a five-point increase in employee engagement is linked to a three-point increase in revenue growth in the subsequent year.
Surveys aren’t conducted regularly.
According to DecisionWise’s 2017 State of Employee Engagement report, most companies measure employee engagement annually. That just isn’t enough. Companies need to measure employee engagement regularly to know where employee engagement is at present and view and analyze trends to determine whether employee engagement is improving or declining.
Employee Engagement survey results aren’t acted upon.
Employees expect when they respond to surveys and provide feedback, the company will take action on said feedback. When that doesn’t happen, it sends a message that leadership isn’t listening and doesn’t care about employees. And the result is employees lose trust, disengage, and ultimately leave.
Employee Engagement is viewed as solely HR’s job, not a shared responsibility.
When HR is solely responsible for employee engagement it becomes an HR task that people just won’t take seriously or commit to it. Also, when tasks are siloed in one department, that results in inconsistencies and inefficiencies.
For employee engagement to be genuinely effective, it must be a shared responsibility between senior leadership, HR, team managers, and employees.
What can organizations do?
Not onboarding employees leads to more turnover, and turnover costs companies a lot of money in recruiting and lost productivity thanks to the vacancy.
Talya Bauer Ph.D. notes that more than half of new hires fail within the first 18 months. According to Bauer, new employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 69% more likely to still be with the organization after three years.
Onboarding is not just about orienting new employees to the company’s policies and procedures – it also involves helping employees understand their job, performance expectations, and the culture; introducing them to co-workers and management; and connecting them with resources that will enable them to do their jobs well.
Help Employees Grow Through Meaningful Employee Development Programs
Work with employees to create a plan for their personal and professional growth.
This might entail even tailoring the job to a given worker’s passions and strengths, instead of forcing an employee into a preconceived role. The upside is you end up with a more satisfied, committed employee.
Check in frequently and monitor progress. Offering more feedback and recognizing employees for a job well-done will make them feel like valuable contributors to your team. As a result, they will be more motivated to do their best work.
Offer employees coaching and mentoring so they feel that they are being supported and respected.
Encourage them to take ownership of their development.
Provide training to employees. Don’t just provide hard-skill training – include soft-skill training, too.
Also consider cross-departmental training, which provides two key benefits: employees learn how different parts of the organization work together, and they connect with other employees to build camaraderie.
Encourage other training activities like outside class attendance and membership in professional associations.
Training helps give employees more autonomy – they have different methods and tools at their disposal to do things well on their own.
Find and Train the Right Managers
Search out the right managers and hold them accountable for their employees’ engagement. Poor manager/employee relationships are usually cited in studies as a top cause of employee turnover.
The best managers understand that their success and the organization’s success rely on employees’ achievements.
Not everyone is a great manager. Organizations’ ability to select people who have this talent is critical.
Give Employees a Sense of Purpose
Senior leadership should help employees understand where they are going and give them tools on how to get there.
They can do this by:
- Developing a clear, agreed-on vision and strategy, where all employees can contribute to its formation, so they feel they are a part of the decision making process.
- Translating the vision and strategy into clear, understandable goals and measurements. This gives employees a sense of ownership and passion to reach goals, resulting in business outcomes being met.
- Making sure employees have the talent, information, and resources to enable them to perform at their best.
- Creating an environment of open and transparent communication. That includes providing feedback, and keeping employees informed and excited about the vision and the mission.
- Providing meaningful incentives, rewards, and recognition that serve to set an example for other employees and encourage staff to go over and above expectations. Incentives, rewards, and recognition should align with a company’s business objectives.
Create an Effective Voice of the Employee (VoE) Program
Organizations must be willing to listen to their employees and implement actionable insights identified from this feedback.
Use multiple channels – online feedback, surveys, social media, interviews, etc. – to find out what motivates or troubles employees. Use the right tools to collect the right data. Data should be specific, relevant, and actionable for any team. And data should be proven to influence key performance metrics.
Extract actionable insights from the data and route them to the right people who can take action.
Close the loop by communicating with employees on the actions that have taken place.
Who "owns" employee engagement in your organization? Comment below!