How To Develop and Sustain Employee Engagement
Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup
“Employee engagement” is such a commonly used buzzword, especially in today’s workforce, that it’s easy to forget what it stands for, and how difficult it is to accomplish.
Only 15% of global employees report that they are engaged in their jobs, which in the U.S. alone costs companies $550 billion annually in lost productivity. In fact, more people (18%) are disengaged (or toxically negative) than are actually engaged while the vast majority (67%) are passive towards their role – satisfied with their work but not fully engaged.
Employee engagement is one of the best indicators of workplace satisfaction; better engagement is proven to lead to better productivity, quality and retention. But how do you get employees engaged at work?
Employee engagement is a measure of how invested people are in their jobs. The standard definition is that an engaged employee is someone who is committed to helping their organization achieve its goals. Employees who are engaged know what is expected of them and feel that their work is meaningful towards the big picture. They also have the skills and resources to accomplish what needs to be done.
In other words, engaged employees know what to do, they know how to do it and, most importantly, they know why.
However, employee engagement is both cognitive and emotional. Employees may know what to do, how to do it, and why, but unless they feel positively about their colleagues, supervisors and position, they may still be disengaged. The truth is humans are often motivated more by emotion than ration. That’s the part many managers forget about.
So, employee engagement is really when employees know what to do, how to do it, why they do it, and they feel like it matters.
We are in unprecedented times, and it’s harder than ever to find and keep engaged employees. Managers are forced to do more with less and employees are working remotely with less and less in-person interaction. Yes, studies show that even when working remotely engagement activities can help employees learn, grow and feel committed to their organization.
So, we’ve rounded up some realistic employee engagement ideas that will help you get your employees engaged with their work and sustain them in the long run.
The best place to start is understanding your current situation. How engaged are your employees? What do they need to be more engaged? Measuring engagement can be difficult because it’s difficult to quantify. But through an employee survey or, if you have a small organization, employee interviews you can get a pretty good picture of what engagement looks like.
Your survey may address questions such as:
You might already have a hunch of how engaged employees are but conducting a survey will only help you by confirming your intuition or it might surprise you. A survey with free response can also highlight specific issues you can address.
You should then attract and hire the right people for the right roles. How will you do that? By keeping your mission clear in all stages of the hiring process. State your company’s mission in job descriptions. Additionally, make sure you put people in the right positions. Some people may be totally on board with your company’s vision, but not in a place to maximize their skills.
Once employees are on boarded, help them see how their role fits into the big picture. What would happen if they stopped doing their job? What impact are they having on the organization’s success? Demonstrate that to them and remind them regularly of the part they play in fulfilling the company’s mission. That way, they won’t feel like they are doing meaningless tasks that won’t benefit the big picture.
When hiring new people and when working with existing teammates, always make clear that you want them to grow as much as they are helping to grow your company. Provide opportunities for them to learn, through development sessions, online learning, or giving them new and meaningful projects. This will be mutually beneficial to both your employees and you because they will gain new skills and develop their careers, become more satisfied and engaged, and will become better equipped to work towards the company’s vision.
Check in with your employees regularly through formal reviews, 1:1s, regular surveys, or informal meetings. Ask how they feel work is doing and how they feel about their tasks. Make engagement a frequent part of your team discussions and invite your people to innovate their own ideas of how they can be better engaged with the company’s vision. By allowing them to be in control of their own engagement, employees will be more invested and motivated.
Leaders set the company’s vision and determine who is involved in which projects. They also invest in the development of their people and empower people to succeed. Because leaders have so much control over the direction of the company, who is on board, and how people are developed, leaders have a direct impact on employee engagement.
People are your most important asset, so you should learn how to help them succeed as much as you can. Learning how to lead in a way that will motivate and engage your people will make all the difference in your success. Check out our leadership development program here to help you become more effective at engaging your employees and leadership coaching .
Stephen R. Covey