Running a business without knowing how to properly manage people is like trying to drive a car without any oil in the engine – both will fail over time. Empirical research on the critical issue of Employee Engagement has proven that people management skills, effectively applied, are directly linked to bottom line profit. In most organizations, salaries represent the largest single expense and smart organizations work to leverage this very significant asset to their best advantage. As HR consultants with thousands of website customers, we are well aware of the engagement/productivity issues companies struggle with because of poor people management practices.
So, Employee Engagement = Profitability and it all starts with hiring the right people in the first place. Almost all cases of poor job performance can be linked back to poor hiring processes. Hiring is serious business, and ensuring the right fit and skill sets in new hires can often mean the difference between business success and failure. Why are 98% of all managers never trained in effective interviewing skills that would equip them to find and select the best candidates available? We have to assume that either they don’t know this training exists, or they don’t understand that employee engagement begins with hiring right the first time.
What is Employee Engagement? “An engaged employee is one who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about their work, and thus will act in a way that furthers their organization’s interests.” When you think of the time an employee spends at work, does it not make sense to leverage that time to the company’s best advantage? Worldwide research unquestionably proves that, on average, employees are only 35% engaged in their work and companies and governments are now starting to take the issue very seriously. For example, in November, 2012, the UK government announced the formation of a joint task force with business to tackle the “Employee Engagement deficit” estimated at 26 billion pounds in GDP each year. A highly engaged workforce is a significant competitive advantage and enlightened companies are doing something about it. Companies that ignore the importance of proper people management will be surpassed in the marketplace by their competitors who are doing something about employee engagement.
Worldwide research has also identified certain key drivers of Employee Engagement that organizations should understand and address if they are striving for better results. In addition to the critical driver “Hiring Right the First Time”, organizations need to address the following:
Providing clarity on the job: This means ensuring that employees know what their job is, what they are expected to produce and how they are going to be measured
Building people management skills: Managers and supervisors need to understand, develop and implement the key people management skills that generate Employee Engagement
Developing HR Policy Guides: Employees need boundaries so they understand what is acceptable and expected behavior on the job.
Employee Communication: Employees want to understand how they fit into their organization and how their contribution helps the company achieve its goals. Communication top down, peer to peer and bottom up is essential to this process.
Finally, employees also have a role and responsibility for engagement. They can’t just sit back and expect their company’s leadership to magically create this collegial environment that promotes results. However, it remains the company’s responsibility to provide the tools so that employees understand the role they need to play.
Addressing this critical issue of Employee Engagement is not rocket science. It requires a pragmatic approach that can be easily understood by all levels of an organization. First, companies need to grasp the concept of Employee Engagement, what it is and what empirical research has proven is the impact it has on organizations. Then, managers and supervisors need training in the key drivers. Finally, companies need direction to turn the theory into reality. This is where the work really begins… with the ongoing commitment on everyone’s part to have Employee Engagement become part of the company’s culture.
The authors, Barry Chapman and Ron Guest, are the senior partners of TwoGreySuits, “The Employee Engagement Company” who offer an on-line training solution and website application designed to improve employee engagement across any organization. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org