Does your workplace encourage employee engagement? If not it should. Employee engagement can be a powerful factor in your business success. Engaged employees are more productive, customer-focused, and profit-generating, and employers are more likely to retain them.
Employee engagement is not a Human Resources initiative that managers are reminded to do once a year. It's a key strategic commitment that drives employee performance, accomplishment, and continuous improvement all year long.
Just as organizations can't create employee empowerment, employee motivation, or employee satisfaction, engagement is up to the employees who make decisions and choices about how involved they want to be at work. Employees make choices relative to their empowerment, motivation, and satisfaction. These choices are not up to you, the employer.
What is the employer's responsibility, however, is to create a culture and an environment that is conducive to employees making the choices that are good for your business. And engaged employees are good for your business.
Key Factors in an Engaging Environment
Consider the following if you need your employees to become more engaged and involved in their work:
- Employee engagement must be a business strategy that focuses on finding engaged employees and then keeping them engaged throughout the whole employment relationship.
- Employee engagement must focus on business results. Employees are most engaged when they are accountable and abe to see and measure the outcomes of their performance.
- Employee engagement occurs when the goals of the business are aligned with the employee’s goals and day-to-day work. The glue that holds the strategic objectives of the employee and the business together is frequent, effective communication that reaches and informs the employee at the level and practice of their job.
- Engaged employees have the information that they need to understand exactly and precisely how what they do at work every day affects the company's business goals and priorities. These goals and measurements relate to the Human Resources department, but every department should have a set of metrics.
- Employee engagement thrives when organizations are committed to management and leadership development in performance development plans that are performance-driven, and when they provide clear succession plans.
Why Do Organizations Fail at Employee Engagement?
If employee engagement is so crucial to an organization’s success, why do so many organizations pursue it so ineffectively? The answer is that incorporating a business strategy such as employee engagement is hard work—work that many employers don't see immediately impacting their bottom line.
Most organizations implement engagement as a program that's ancillary to the actual business. But, by thinking about employee engagement as a planned business strategy—with expected and measured business results—engagement becomes possible.
The Crucial Role of the Manager
With this in mind, employee engagement as a successful business strategy requires effective managers who are committed to:
- Measuring employee performance and holding employees accountable
- Providing the communication necessary to align each employee’s actions with the organization’s overall business goals
- Pursuing the employee development required to ensure success
- Making a commitment (in time, tools, attention, reinforcement, training, etc.) to keeping employees engaged over the long haul because they fundamentally believe no other strategy will produce as much success—for the business or the employees
Additional Critical Factors
The following factors also influence the willingness of employees to stay engaged and contributing:
- An effective recognition and reward system: There's value in a recognition system that lets employees know they are truly worthy. Effective recognition always involves verbal or written acknowledgment from the employee's manager in addition to any tangible reward.
- Frequent feedback: The downside of the standard employee performance appraisal is that it's a one-time deal. Effective performance feedback takes place every day (or weekly at a minimum) during regular interaction between the employee and their manager. Constructive feedback focuses on what the employee is doing well and what needs improvement. It is clear and specific and reinforces the actions that the manager wants to see the employee regularly perform.
- Shared values and guiding principles: Engaged employees thrive in an environment that reinforces their most deeply held values and beliefs. Employees are most successful in an organization in which their personal values are in sync with the organization's stated values and guiding principles. These topics should be explored during interviews.
- Demonstrated respect, trust, and emotional intelligence: Employees' direct supervisors need to demonstrate that they are personally interested in and care about their employees.
- Positive relationships with co-workers: Engaged employees need to work, not just with nice people, but with co-workers who are equivalently engaged. Co-workers who demonstrate integrity, teamwork, a passion for quality and serving customers, and are passionate about what they do, make for ideal colleagues who help foster employee engagement.
Engaged employees are a key driver of success for your business. Commitment to these practices for the long haul will have a dramatic impact on your company and its employees.