There’s more to employee engagement than you think

What makes one company more successful than another? Is it because one produces better products or services? Offers a better cost structure? Adapts a more cohesive marketing strategy? Or perhaps it employs more innovative technologies? Certainly, all these contribute to superior performance, but all of them can be reproduced over time and businesses that continuously evolve can and will reach the grade.

The one major thing that can create a sustainable competitive advantage (and in turn ROI, company value and long-term strength) is your workforce, the people that make up your company.

What is employee engagement?

It’s a concept designed to ensure that your employees are committed to your organisation’s goals and values and are motivated to contribute to the overall success of your business.

Typical phrases used in employee engagement writing include organisational citizenship behaviour, job involvement, discretionary effort, going the extra mile, feeling valued and passion for work.

You’ve heard about it before, but what does it mean for you?

Let’s look at the stats…

Research shows four out of 10 workers are disengaged globally – with 70% of US workers reporting that they don’t like their job. This creates an environment where many people are emotionally disconnected from their workplace and less productive than their engaged counterparts of the workforce. In Gallup’s 2013 State of the Global Workplace report, it showed that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work with Australia’s engagement rate at 24%.

Furthermore, according to Right Management Manpower Company research,engaged employees are 7 times less likely to leave in the next year and 1.5 times more likely to stay for at least 5 years.

Employee engagement is important for all managers, you need to protect your investment in your people by retaining employees and intellectual capital to ensure your businesses continuity and its ability to meet key business objectives.

What can you do to improve employee engagement?

There is a string of research and ideas on how to increase employee engagement. Here are some of the main recurrent themes on how to do this:

  • Align employee goals to business outcomes. Employees need to know that they are working for their own goals as much as the organisation’s when they come into work each day. They need to see how their role impacts the organisation’s overall profit.

  • See your employees as people not as a number. Successful companies with a higher propensity for employee engagement are committed to open and honest communication, and engage in social interactions outside work. As a manager, take a genuine interest in employee well-being.

  • Increase employee input and involvement. Listen to problems at the local level as well as at the organisational level. Support team building activities, coaching and mentoring.

  • Know the strengths of your employees. Putting people in the right job fit is a part of engaging your employees that both the organisation and the employee benefits. Engagement increases when managers focus on employees’ strengths.

  • Recognise and rewardour employees. From mastering a new work process, gaining a sought after client, solving a problem that creates value for an organisation, to exemplary demonstrations of an organisation’s core values; employee recognition is a very big part of employee engagement.

If employees truly are a company’s best asset, then leaders and managers should make caring for them a priority. In the never ending battle for competitive advantage where employees are the differentiator, engaged employees are the ultimate goal.

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