Highly Engaged Organizations See Results
• 87% show an increase in revenue in the following three years
• 86% report an increase in market share
• 57% report lower employee turnover
• 90% of the publicly traded clients report higher stock prices
When I talk to people about Employee Engagement the same question keeps popping up. True…all the research has been done, so people now know that highly engaged employees improve profitability, but what exactly is Employee Engagement and how can we tell if an employee is fully engaged? …is still the big question. Employee Engagement is no longer a fluffy HR term, it is a well-researched and proven business concept in which organizations around the world are spending billions of dollars on; to instill it, to measure it and to sustain it. Employee Engagement surveys are now as popular as Total Quality Management was back in the 1980’s. This is not a passing fad; it is a powerful tool to improve profitability. Even governments are getting in on understanding how to increase Employee Engagement.
Here are some of the definitions I have seen:
• An individual’s degree of positive or negative emotional attachment to their organization, job and colleagues. It’s what distinguishes employees who act primarily for their own personal well-being from those who feel a commitment to the organization as a whole, because that organization has encouraged an overwhelmingly positive connection.
• A heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work.
Engaged employees depart from the “have to be here 9-5” mindset to one of having a legitimate desire to get something done, regardless of the time. Can you have a 9-5er who is fully engaged? Of course you can. My point here is that highly engaged employees go well out of their way to truly understand what the company is trying to accomplish and treat their jobs as a learning/development part of their career vs. a certain set of tasks they perform. An example of this would be at Southwest Airlines. To help keep the airline viable when gas prices spiked in 1991, employees voluntarily purchased fuel for the company via payroll deductions.
Learning: Employees that are treated as important participants in the business will go out of their way to help the company. Also, employees who are inspired by their company’s mission are more likely to go out of their way to help.
So, the key question then is, how do you get employees to this level of Engagement?
The answer is not as difficult as you might expect. One of the most proven and powerful drivers of Employee Engagement is the relationship employees have with their direct manager. This relationship is a function of the manager’s people management capabilities. To be even more specific, it is exactly how a manager delegates work, how they train or coach employees to think on their own, and how and when they give job performance feedback. In my 25 years of experience in helping managers properly manage people, I see many managers who are reluctant to give job performance feedback and in many cases, they never do this. Why? Because they are afraid of how it might be perceived. Yes, this is sad but true. Managers who do not know how to give proper job performance feedback should not be managing people, period. Additionally, managers who do give feedback but in an incorrect fashion are just as negligent as those who don’t do it at all.
So, if providing job performance feedback is not a staple in your organization, you may never get to a highly engaged employee state. There are other drivers of course, but this is where you want to start.
If you want to find out if a manager is properly managing their direct reports, consider skip level interviews, where you ask the direct reports very specific questions about how they are managed. This would include the following questions:
1. Are you clear in your responsibilities? Tell me.
2. Are you working towards specific goals and objectives?
3. Do you receive regular feedback on your job performance to these goals and objectives?
4. Do you respect your manager?
5. Is your manager credible?
6. Does your manager encourage you to think of solutions on your own?
7. Would you recommend this company to your friends and colleagues?
8. Does your manager help you to become more competent in your job?
The HR Power Centre’s Performance Management module has broken down all employee-manager communication events into a “what to do” and “how to do it” tool kit. It is never too late to change or improve your people management skills. There is no downside here at all, and the benefits provide the foundation upon which to start building a highly engaged workforce.