An engaged employee is a person who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work. Engaged employees care about the future of the company and are willing to invest the discretionary effort – exceeding duty’s call – to see that the organisation succeeds. However, a recent study from the Gallup Management Journal found that only 29% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs.
Should business leaders be concerned about these findings? The same study found that 84% of highly engaged employees believe they can positively impact the quality of their organisation’s products, compared with only 31 percent of the disengaged. This disconnect between employers and employees represents a major business risk, and also means that many companies run at only a third of their potential. But how can we help this? We’ve tried to find out:
- Connect – Leaders must show that they value employees. Employee-focused programmes such as profit sharing and implementing work–life balance initiatives are important. Employee engagement is a direct reflection of how workers feel about their relationship with their bosses, by looking at whether organisations and their leader walk the talk when they proclaim that, “Our employees are our most valuable asset.”
- Careers – Leaders should provide challenging and meaningful work with opportunities for career advancement. Most people want to do new things in their job. Good leaders challenge employees; but at the same time, they must instil the confidence that the challenges can be met. Not giving people the knowledge and tools to be successful is unethical and demotivating; it is also likely to lead to stress, frustration, and, ultimately, disengagement.
- Clarity – People want to understand the vision senior directors have for the organisation, and the goals leaders or departmental heads have for the division, unit, or team. Success in life and organisations is, to a great extent, determined by how clear individuals are about their goals and what they really want to achieve. In sum, employees need to understand what the organisation’s goals are, why they are important, and how they can best be attained.
- Convey – Leaders clarify their expectations about employees and provide feedback on their functioning in the organisation. Good leaders establish processes and procedures that help people master important tasks and facilitate goal achievement
- Congratulate – Surveys show that, over and over, employees feel that they receive immediate feedback when their performance is poor, or below expectations. These same employees also report that praise and recognition for strong performance is much less common.
- Contribute – People want to know that their input matters and that they are contributing to the organisation’s success in a meaningful way.
- Control – Employees value control over the flow and pace of their jobs and leaders can create opportunities for employees to exercise this control. Do leaders consult with their employees with regard to their needs?
- Collaborate – Great leaders are team builders; they create an environment that fosters trust and collaboration. Surveys indicate that being cared about by colleagues is a strong predictor of engagement.
- Credibility – Leaders should strive to maintain a company’s reputation and demonstrate high ethical standards, if they want to have credibility.
To read about how Waitrose engaged their workforce to obtain cost saving ideas, download our case study.