A Complete Guide For Managers Who Want To Increase Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is one of the most important factors of business success. Organizations that have engaged employees report increased profits and productivity. At the same time, businesses that fail to create an engaging work environment find themselves dealing with high employee turnover and many on-the-job mistakes. But what does it take to increase employee engagement? If you want to know the answer to this question, this guide is for you. Read on to discover all you need to know about team engagement, from the benefits of employee engagement to insider tips on how to improve it.
What Is Employee Engagement?
In order to form an adequate employee engagement definition, we need to define what an engaged employee looks like. Companies that achieve high engagement have employees that are enthusiastic about what they do and happy to be contributing. They understand the overall goals, mission, and vision of their organization and take appropriate action to promote them. Consequently, employee engagement is often correlated with employee satisfaction, as one guarantees the other. For this reason, leaders are putting special emphasis on creating positive work experiences for their staff by giving them the motivation they need to tap into their maximum potential.
Why Is It Important?
It only takes looking at the definition of employee engagement to realize why it is so essential to the success of an organization. Engaged employees have found a purpose in what they do and don’t show up at work simply because they have to. They are passionate and take pleasure in the small or big successes they contribute to.
Significance Of Engagement To Employees
Most leaders believe that employee satisfaction depends on salary and benefits, and those are the only reasons behind high employee turnover. Even though there is truth in that, employees also consider mutual understanding and trust crucial for their stay at any organization. They want open discussions with their employers and the certainty that leadership always has their best interest in mind. When leaders take the necessary steps to foster such a work environment, that’s when employee engagement thrives.
Significance Of Engagement To Leaders
Now, how can management be persuaded that spending time and money on increasing employee engagement is a worthy investment? Leaders might believe that their company is already successful even though they observe low levels of engagement. That might be true, but there’s no doubt that a truly engaged workforce will transform success levels. Being mindful of your employees’ needs and wants can boost morale and, in turn, performance and productivity. As a result, businesses will witness higher profits, increased ROI, and reduced turnover. Not to mention that satisfied employees will become your best advocates, thus improving lead conversion, customer loyalty, and talent attraction.
Who’s Responsible For Employee Engagement In An Organization?
As one can assume, creating engagement in the workplace is up to the HR department and management. The former is tasked with hiring the right people to fit with the corporate culture, facilitating processes within the organization, and supporting employee satisfaction through advancement opportunities. The latter is expected to motivate employees by recognizing their contributions, promoting open communication, and being an example of engagement. It’s not possible to ask or force an employee to be engaged, which is why leaders must forge strong and trusting relationships with their employees.
It’s worth noting that employee engagement goes both ways. Although it’s important for management to take the necessary actions to keep their employees happy and engaged, employees must also claim some accountability for their engagement.
What Are The Different Levels Of Engaged Employees?
Depending on how motivated and engaged employees are, they can be classified into three different categories of engagement. Let’s see what those are.
We’re starting at the top level, the highly engaged employees. This category is the most sought-after among employers and the hardest to maintain at a steady level. Engaged employees are passionate about their work and have a special connection with their companies. They’re committed to their position and always make efforts to come up with innovative ideas that boost organizational goals. They’re consistently high-performing employees that go above and beyond to fulfill their responsibilities.
Not Engaged Employees
The middle level is also the most common in companies. These employees put in the effort to complete their tasks but lack passion and devotion. They do what is asked of them, but they rarely think outside the box or take initiative. Since their opinion about their job is neither positive nor negative, they are more likely to move on to a new employer when the opportunity arises. Not engaged employees can impact overall performance, as they are not motivated to do their best.
Actively Disengaged Employees
Finally, we have a category that typically takes up the smallest percentage in a company but has the most noticeable impact. Actively disengaged employees are unhappy with their professional state, usually resentful towards their company, and almost always very willing to spread their negativity in the workplace. They are the most harmful to corporate productivity, as they not only do the bare minimum themselves but also demotivate their colleagues. Despite all that, they usually become long-term employees until they are removed by the organization.
What Are The Drivers Of Employee Engagement?
If you want to improve employee engagement in your organization, you must first comprehend the factors that impact it. It’s easy to blame economic turmoil, the health crisis, or the employees themselves, but that won’t solve anything. During their research, Engage For Success, a movement that promotes employee engagement, proposed the following 4 elements as the key drivers behind engaged employees.
1. Strategic Narrative
It’s especially challenging for employees to be truly engaged when there is no clear goal in sight. On the contrary, if their business has a strong strategic compass with a clear vision, goal, and deliverables, then everything becomes easier. Therefore, before you shift the blame for low team engagement to the employees themselves, make sure that you have developed a purpose-driven strategy that helps everyone know what their role is and paints a clear path toward improvement and organizational success.
2. Engaging Managers
Engagement in the workplace cannot only be handled by the top levels of leadership. Line managers are also important drivers of employee engagement, as they directly affect a large number of employees. To foster a positive work experience for their teams, line managers must invest time on each team member in order to find what motivates them, offer them personalized insights, as well as guidance regarding their training path. This will help employees feel seen and supported on an individual level and not just as a collective.
3. Employee Autonomy
When employees feel supported and motivated, they are more likely to develop their own voice. Specifically, as they get more involved in the corporate agenda, they propose ideas to facilitate processes or resolve issues. However, employee feedback isn’t always positive, which means management must be prepared to handle it appropriately. Encouraging your employees to express their opinion only to ignore it or target them for it will bring the opposite results. Give staff multiple channels to communicate with you and use their insights to create a positive and engaging work environment.
Employees work harder for an employer they trust. One that creates an environment of mutual understanding, trust, and respect. Therefore, behaviors within the organization must align with your corporate values. One way to achieve that is to let employees use their voices and be transparent about the feedback you receive. Let them know how you handle their input and the steps that are taken to change problematic situations. Of course, no one is perfect, but as long as you keep your say-do gap as small as possible, employees will appreciate your efforts and remain motivated.
Employee Engagement Models
Gaining a clear understanding of employee engagement can be a complicated subject, as each organization is different. Thankfully, an employee engagement model can act as a blueprint that helps you comprehend what motivates employees and how you can create a more engaging work experience. Here, we present three of the most commonly used models.
The Zinger Model
This model was named after its creator, David Zinger, a management consultant with decades of experience in employee engagement. This model focuses on the significance of employee relations to their colleagues, supervisors, customers, etc., and can be visualized in the form of a ten-block pyramid, as follows.
- Bottom row: The necessities
These are the essentials one needs to perform their job. The four blocks that make it up are to enhance well-being, enliven energy, make meaning, and leverage strengths.
- Second row: Uniting the company
At this stage, we focus on the importance of forming bonds and connecting employees to the organization as a whole. The three key actions here are to build relationships, foster recognition, and master moments.
- Third row: Boosting performance
At this point, the model becomes more practical and utilizes the building blocks of engagement to drive practical results. This is accomplished through two steps: maximizing performance and marking progress.
- Ultimate goal: Achieving results
The previous three rows are combined to conquer the top block of the pyramid, namely, producing measurable results. Specifically, this model utilizes nine separate steps to develop engaged employees who are willing to contribute to their organization and enhance productivity, profitability, and ultimately, success.
The Deloitte Model
The world-leading accounting firm Deloitte has spent hundreds of hours researching employee engagement and the concept of creating a work environment that is “irresistible” to employees. Their two-year-long research produced the Deloitte employee engagement model, which outlines five central pillars that drive engagement and four accompanying key strategies for each pillar. Together, they form the following factors that determine employee engagement within an organization.
- Meaningful work
To produce purposeful work, employees must have the following: autonomy and independence, colleagues that fit the cultural profile of the organization, small teams that encourage empowerment and teamwork, and a work schedule that leaves some time for slack.
- Hands-on engagement
Managers are one of the core drivers of employee engagement. Empower them to motivate and engage their employees by setting clear and transparent goals, providing effective coaching and insightful feedback, investing in management development, and managing performance through assessments and growth opportunities.
- Positive work environment
Employees thrive in work environments that offer flexibility, have a humanistic approach, view recognition as part of their culture, and promote inclusivity and diversity. Keep these four elements in mind to create a virtual or physical workplace that employees are happy to come into every day.
- Growth opportunity
Stagnation is the enemy of employee engagement. If you don’t want your employees to feel stuck in a rut, offer on-the-job training and support, facilitate talent mobility, and create a high-impact learning culture that promotes self-directed dynamic learning.
- Trust in leadership
Employee engagement requires trust and commitment to a unified mission. To achieve that, make sure to communicate your mission and purpose clearly, continuously invest in your people, be transparent and honest, and act as a source of inspiration with your words and actions.
The Gallup Employee Engagement Model
Gallup is already an established authority in workplace analytics, providing companies with valuable statistics on employee engagement. Their extensive research on the topic produced the Q12 Pyramid, a model that consists of a 12-question engagement survey and a pyramid that visualizes four categories of needs. Starting from the bottom, the four categories are basic needs, individual contribution, teamwork, and growth, which is the ultimate goal of the model. Each of the levels is associated with a number of questions from Q12, culminating with the final question and the top level.
This brief survey and the accompanying visualization of needs might seem like a simple strategy. However, it has been carefully designed to identify and assess the 12 main elements that drive employee motivation. The data gathered from Q12 give managers a roadmap of what they need to adjust or pay special attention to in order to increase individual and team engagement. By working on these elements, managers build a culture of trust and support that promotes maximum growth and performance.
How Does High Engagement Benefit Your Business?
There’s no doubt that having employees that are motivated and committed is beneficial to an organization. But what are the specific benefits of employee engagement you can expect?
Increased Employee Productivity
It only makes sense that an employee that is engaged and has a genuine interest in what they do will work harder and be more productive. When there is a connection between an employee and their job, they are more likely to take initiative, come up with innovative ideas, and go the extra mile to achieve their goals. In fact, research shows that workplaces that invest in employee engagement witness a significant increase in productivity and profitability.
Higher Employee Retention
The main reason why leaders are focusing heavily on boosting engagement is that disinterested employees are a leading cause of employee turnover. Constantly having to replace staff, on top of onboarding and training them, can be extremely costly for a business. On the contrary, engaged employees have a clear purpose, a trusting relationship with leadership, and a bond with their coworkers. All these elements keep them committed to their company for much longer.
Increased Customer Satisfaction
Taking care of your customer base is crucial to maintaining a successful business. But how does employee engagement keep your customers happy? Motivated employees have a deeper understanding of their subject matter and, as such, can offer more insightful answers to their customers’ questions. In addition, their focus on continuous improvement ensures they know the best techniques on establishing a relationship with the customer, dealing with complaints, securing upsells, etc. Finally, satisfied employees want to have satisfied customers, which is why they will go above and beyond to create a positive customer experience.
Chronic employee disengagement can result in increased levels of absenteeism. These unexpected “days off” can be a result of burnout, poor leadership, or attempts to interview for a new job. Whatever the case, investing in employee engagement can significantly decrease this phenomenon, as employees will receive more satisfaction from their job. Consider investing in an employee wellness program to prevent cases of employee burnout by encouraging employees to take care of their mental health and work-life balance.
How To Improve Employee Engagement In The Workplace?
Increasing employee engagement is far from an impossible task, and the benefits it will bring to your company are definitely worth the effort. Here are some steps you can take to transform motivation levels within your company.
1. Prioritize Role Design
A common reason why employees seem to be disengaged is that their position doesn’t challenge them anymore. Therefore, it’s wise to start by taking a close look at your employee’s role to decide if it can be redesigned in any way. Does their work add value to organizational goals? Do they have the right tools or the necessary additional training? Do they need more independence and ownership? These questions will help you make the necessary changes that will re-engage your employees and boost their performance.
2. Supply The Right Tools
With the surge of technology in most aspects of the business sector, doing your job effectively requires much more than a sharp mind. Being unprepared for technological advancements can disrupt employee productivity. Start with the basics and provide your staff with advanced equipment that doesn’t lag and a reliable internet connection. Then you can get more specific. For example, simplify your security protocols or utilize password management software so that your employees don’t waste time and end up frustrated every time they log in.
3. Facilitate Communication
Having an open and trusting relationship with your employees is a great way to increase their motivation and engagement. For an employee to develop a connection with their role and company, they must feel that leadership is always there to listen to their concerns, ideas, and opinions. Make sure you plan one-on-one check-ins with your employees every few weeks to exchange feedback, track progress, or simply strengthen your relationship. In addition, facilitate communication by allowing your employees to contact you in various ways, e.g., email, internal chat tools, face-to-face, and over the phone.
4. Implement Feedback
Listening to your employees is not enough. You must also take steps to implement their feedback. This will create trust within your organization and promote a sense of integrity. Moreover, employee engagement increases when employees’ opinions are taken into account and used to create a work environment that is tailored to their needs. The significance of feedback has prompted businesses to seek it more often by organizing frequent pulse meetings, performance conversations, stay interviews, employee suggestion boxes, or anonymous surveys.
5. Invest In Your Employees’ Development
Success can only be achieved when leaders invest in the development and learning of their employees. Besides, investing in employee training is investing in your own company. Fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement doesn’t only create employees that are capable, knowledgeable, and productive. It also lets them know that their business respects them as individuals and is genuinely interested in supporting their growth. These feelings of acknowledgment promote trust between employer and employee, thus enhancing engagement.
6. Find The Meaning
It’s very difficult for an employee to maintain their level of commitment in the workplace when they don’t have a clear mission. Employers often make the mistake of hiring great talent only to have them do meaningless work or neglect their training. However, all employees deserve to see that their work contributes to a higher purpose and that their leadership has a clear path in mind regarding their development. Therefore, take active steps to show your employees the significance of their contributions as well as the measures you’re taking to promote their professional growth.
7. Foster Relationships
If your company is made up of many departments, promoting interaction among employees could prove to be another useful tool to combat disengagement. Often, forming relationships with colleagues is a great way for employees to become emotionally invested in their jobs. Effective collaboration can also promote innovation through the exchange of different ideas. Thankfully, there’s a plethora of team events you can organize, such as group games, parties, or volunteer opportunities. Whatever you choose, make sure your employees are encouraged to interact with one another in an informal and laid-back way.
8. Recognize And Reward
Last but certainly not least, knowing how to properly acknowledge and reward the hard work of your workforce can make all the difference in increasing morale and engagement. Surely, employees will do their job anyways, but when the achievement of a certain goal or milestone is celebrated, it gives them that extra boost to keep up their efforts. At the same time, recognition from leadership makes them feel valued and significantly contributes to their morale and satisfaction. Recognition programs differ from company to company, ranging from encouraging words and novelty trophies to extra PTO and monetary rewards. Whatever you choose, make sure to be fair and transparent about it. This way, you will spark more positive behaviors and keep your employees happy.
Your workforce is your most important asset, and keeping them engaged is a necessary ingredient of running a successful business. The significance of increasing employee engagement is reflected in the various benefits it brings, from increased productivity to low employee turnover. If you are interested in optimizing employee experience, the employee engagement models and tips we shared here will help you get started on the right foot. Take the leap and develop an irresistible workplace that will put you ahead of your competitors.
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