CEOs focus on numbers to track how well their business is doing. ROI, profit and loss, assets and liabilities: you name it and there is a chart, formula or accounting spreadsheet that gives them the figure they want, or in some cases, not want.
But one number that might not make it on their list but should is the one measuring employee engagement. Why does that one matter? Because when employees aren’t engaged, even if they are well compensated financially, they are less committed and enthusiastic. And that can lead to turnover—an expensive outcome that isn’t good for the company.
The Engagement Percentage
According to Gallup, employee engagement is pretty far south of the ideal 100%, with August 14 numbers only reaching 34.3%. Another Gallup report noted that only 29% of full-time local and government workers are engaged at work, a figure that is matched when looking at government workers at the federal level.
Not good for business since it influences operations at so many levels. And it’s not good for employees, since long-term work dissatisfaction can affect employees’ private lives and personal relationships as well. And this can have long-lasting impact, according to data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 conducted by Ohio State’s Center for Human Resource Research.
Researchers reviewed job satisfaction trajectories for people 25 to 30, and then tracked a variety of health measures after participants turned 40. Those who were in the low job satisfaction group throughout their early careers “reported higher levels of depression, sleep problems and excessive worry. They were also more likely to have been diagnosed with emotional problems and scored lower on a test of overall mental health.”
The Engagement Solution
According to an Inc.com article, between 80% and 90% of organizational leaders know that unengaged employees translates to reduced productivity. But understanding that there’s a problem is one thing. Developing strategies to combat it is quite another. Fortunately, there are a number of approaches that can address the issue.
Show, Don’t Tell. It’s a writing rule that works equally well in business. According to an Entrepreneur article, when leadership models the behavior they want from their employees, the engagement level increases to 55%. Want employees to be more engaged? Display your own engagement in the business from the ground floor up to the corner office. Don’t be an “absentee landlord” but a fully-present member of the team.
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due. Yes, employees are expected to work to their potential, do their job efficiently and meet company expectations. But that doesn’t mean that an acknowledgment from higher-ups or company-wide recognition is unnecessary. Having their performance rewarded in a meaningful way tells employees that they matter as individuals to the organization and are not just as a number on the timecard.
Build Relationships. A Society for Human Resource Management article highlighted two methods: foster connections between colleagues and departments through teaming, and institute a company-sponsored initiative involving all levels of employees to benefit the community or support a cause. The former helps counter a “silo” mentality while the latter allows the all members of the company to not only “feel good by doing good” but also provide new insights into each other in an environment where the “boss/worker” relationship isn’t in place.
Ask, Don’t Assume. What can cause disengagement? Frustration, when employees are expected to deliver results without having the tools they need to do so. And those tools can take many forms: actual equipment, training and education, and advice and support. How do you find out what’s missing? Ask your employees since they are the ones who can give you honest feedback on what they need to do their job.
Focus on the “Employee Experience.” There’s a lot of talk about the customer experience but Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report makes the point that the employee experience is just as important. Having a people-focused culture, identifying the needs and goals of employees and wherever possible, supporting them, reinforces the sense of community that can help a business grow and thrive.
The Engagement Advisor
For any or all of these approaches to work, there has to be an environment of trust—and that can be hard to achieve if employees don’t feel safe voicing their concerns and suggestions or are frustrated because promises are made but not kept.
It can also be a challenge if management lacks communication skills—for example, questions take on an accusatory tone rather than serving as information-gathering inquiries—or has weak interpersonal strengths, with bosses unable to establish a mutually respectful relationship.
Bringing in an outside consultant to facilitate productive conversations within a “zone of trust” can give team members a place where they can provide honest input without fear of retribution. A consultant can also take all the individuals suggestions and issues, integrate them into one report and then distill them to achieve a workable strategy for the company to improve engagement levels.
Discover what Transformation Point can do for you and your company. Take advantage of a unique opportunity to have a one-hour telephone consultation with Transformation Point founder and CEO Kevin L. King, when he’ll help you better define your challenges and provide ideas on how to address them. Call 888-202-3411 today or schedule a consultation today!