My previous article was based on re-induction of employees in an organisation. As we approach 2017 the least for employee and employers is to curry the grudge over to the year! Have you ever asked yourself, just how many of the employees in my organisation are really engaged? If you believe it is about half, you may actually be overestimating the number. But in this incredible time of competing pressures – demand for profitable growth, financial market volatility, political uncertainty, global shifts in workforce demographics and a rapidly shifting technology – a finer point must be put on that core engagement question. Leaders must ask themselves not only “what do employees need in order to be engaged?” but also “what behaviours are we asking them to engage in?” It’s time to rethink the concept of “employee engagement.” In fact, I believe the issue of “engaging people well” is becoming one of the biggest competitive differentiators in business. Employee engagement measures employee sentiment on things such as passion and pride – how passionate employees are about their work, how proud they are to tell people where they work, do they believe in the mission of the organisation, and do they feel their work is valued and their talents are well utilised.
Companies care about revenue, the quality of their products and services, and whether their customers are having positive experiences. Employee engagement is a proven driver of all three. Engaged employees are also more productive and creative. Engaged employees begin the day with a sense of purpose and finish it with a sense of achievement. They consistently bring high levels of determination, tenacity, energy and resilience to everything they do. They are dedicated to their jobs, and it shows in their enthusiasm, inspiration and pride in their work. They become easily engrossed in their roles, and time flows quickly for them when they are at work. In contrast, employees with low engagement dread going to work. Their interactions with coworkers are more negative than positive, and they sometimes treat customers poorly. They also speak poorly about their company to friends and family, achieve less on a daily basis and have fewer creative moments at work. The attitude and actions of the immediate supervisor can enhance employee engagement or can create an atmosphere where an employee becomes disengaged. Other factors that drive engagement are that employees are treated with respect, that their personal values are reflected and that the organisation cares about how they feel.
A “caring” manager is one of the key elements that drives employee engagement. That is, employees want their managers to care about their personal lives, to take an interest in them as people, to care about how they feel and support their health and well-being. A manager’s ability to build strong relationships with employees, build strong team interaction and lead in a “person-centred” way creates an engaging environment in which employees can perform at the highest possible level. Andrew Cargnegie said “You must capture the heart of a supremely able man before his brain can do its best.” But why is employee engagement important to businesses? It’s simple: to make higher profits. Businesses with more engaged employees perform better. What makes one company more successful than another? Better products, services, strategies, technologies or, perhaps, a better cost structure? Certainly, all of these contribute to superior performance, but all of them can be copied over time. The one thing that creates sustainable competitive advantage – and therefore ROI, company value and long-term strength – is the workforce, the people who are the company. In conclusion, employees are your biggest investment and should bring the greatest reward. Yet even today, in too many organizations, employees are viewed as an asset to be managed rather than as individuals who can create the next innovation for success.