How to Maximize Employee Engagement

According to Conference Board in the USA, employee engagement is “a heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work.”

Why is employee engagement important, you ask? Because, it can have the following benefits: increased productivity, less absenteeism, lower turnover, more retention, increased job satisfaction, increased work morale, higher levels of motivation, increased employee loyalty and commitment, and happier customers.

An engaged employee feels connected to the workplace; he cares about his work and works harder to fulfill his responsibilities. They are also enthusiastic about their jobs, and are loyal, motivated, committed and productive. On the other hand, the non-engaged employees are not disconnected with the company, but tend to work less hard than the engaged employees, and are less driven to succeed. They are also more likely to engage in absentee behavior and/or leave the company. The disengaged employees tend to be disgruntled, unhappy and tend to work the least among the three. They are completely disconnected with the company. This of course translates into their work, which is often subpar to the work of the engaged employees.

According to a study by Dale Carnegie, up to 45% of employees are not engaged at work and 26% are actively disengaged. The study also found that ‘employees that are emotionally invested can help a company become up to 202% more productive.’ So, it is in the best interests on the company to try to induce employee engagement. But, how would companies go about improving employee engagement?

As per a survey by the Gallup organization, 19% of the 1,000 people that were interviewed were "actively disengaged" at work. These workers complain that they don't have the tools they need to do their jobs; they don't know what is expected of them; and their bosses don't listen to them. So, these seem like good points to start addressing when confronting a lack of employee engagement.

  • Clearly define what is expected of the employee. They should know exactly how and what they need to do. Ensure that the work provided to the employee suits his strengths and his expertise. You wouldn’t tell an electrical engineer to conduct surgery, would you? If the work is not suited to the employee, or if they do not find the work interesting or challenging, then they will quickly become disengaged.
  • Provide the employees with timely feedback. If the employee is doing something incorrectly, tell him immediately. Do not let him continue and finish the work, and then go back and tell him to change something at the beginning. It just creates extra work. On the other hand, if the employee is doing something right; tell him. Not only will he like to hear it, but it will also reinforce his desire to work harder. Also, when providing feedback, give your reasons about why something works and something doesn’t. It will help him avoid those mistakes in the future.
  • Provide training and equipment whenever needed and possible. This shows that the company is invested in the employee; if the company is showing engagement, the employee will respond back. Employee training is directly tied to employee retainment, which is directly tied to the success and survival of a company.
  • Facilitate a sense of kinship in the company. Employees that feel a connection to each other are more likely to work productively as a team. Team building activities, team outings, picnics, recreational sports, and charity work are all excellent ways to motivate employees and get them involved. The more they are involved with each other, the more tight-knit the employee family; and no one likes to leave a tight-knit group.
  • Lastly, recognize and celebrate employee performance. Even the most internally motivated person in the world still needs to know that their efforts are being noticed. So, when an employee is working hard, or has done something noteworthy, award them. The awards do not have to be huge or expensive; an appreciation certificate, a gift card or a dinner voucher can work wonders, especially if presented in front of the other employees.

 

Image Courtesy: paradigmassociates.us, afiniti.co.uk

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