A Managers Guide to Employee Engagement

July 8, 2014

shakinghandsDo you believe employee engagement is important? 

Here are some statistics to help. Gallup’s research reports a 3.9 times earnings per share (EPS) growth rate between the top- and bottom-quartile workgroups when comparing organisations with a high employee engagement to a low or average employee engagement within the same industry. Research also shows that organisations with engaged employees experienced up to a 16% higher productivity per employee.

Now is it easier to make up your mind? 

But first, what exactly is employee engagement?

An engaged employee does not just mean a happy employee or a satisfied employee. Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has towards the organisation and its goals. Truly engaged employees are willing to go the extra mile for their manager, teams, organisation and customers without the expectation of any material rewards in return. And an organisation with engaged employees is a different place all together – it experiences increased productivity, employee loyalty, ability to attract the best talent, higher retention rates and ultimately happier employees who in turn guarantee satisfied customers. Employees, who feel valued in the organisation and by their managers are productive, engaged and work the best with high levels of energy and diligence.

Most organisations are comprised of three types of employees- engaged, disengaged or non-engaged and actively disengaged, each type influencing the others. An awareness of their characteristics will help organisations and managers understand them better and manage them in a way that benefits the organisation.

Engaged Employees: These employees are highly passionate and are inspired by their work. They care about the future of the organisation, drive innovation and consider the organisation’s success and growth as their own. Work for engaged employees is an opportunity rather than an obligation.

Disengaged Employees:  These employees work enough to get their job done, but don’t display creativity or passion towards excellence. They are at work to put in the required number of hours and put in minimum effort to get their job done. They put in a lot less energy and passion into their jobs.

Actively Disengaged Employees: These employees are not just dissatisfied with their work; they make sure they make their discontent known to others. Actively disengaged employees are slightly dangerous to have around as they often tend to spread negativity around in the workplace and do not hesitate to undermine the work of their peers. This could cause operational and performance issues with the rest of the team members.

An organisation with high levels of employee engagement often experiences the multiplier effect where some engaged employees lead to more and more engaged employees. An engaged organisation will also attract good talent as well, thus increasing the organisational success.

Managers play a very crucial role in employee engagement. Here’s a look at how successful managers ensure high levels of engagement in their teams:

They provide role clarity

Good managers who articulate what exactly is expected from their team and how it contributes to overall organisational success experience increased employee engagement amongst their team members. Its important to understand that job clarity goes beyond just setting goals and objectives for the employees. It’s crucial to let the employees know the ultimate result expected and the tools that they have access to as well as the exact scope of their authority to get the job done. Managers successful at engagement also make sure their team members understand that the means to the end result is important as well – thus ensuring that all the organisational policies and processes are taken into consideration.

They encourage conflict

Managers who encourage employees to challenge status quo experience increased engagement. Of course challenging status quo may ruffle a few feathers, but conflict is also a sign of a healthy relationship and allows employees to freely express their opinions, feelings and concerns. By encouraging disagreements the manager in fact provides a mechanism for constructive conflict and thus resolution. Research also shows that constructive conflict in teams actually elevates team performance that ultimately benefits the whole organisation.

They provide regular feedback

Organisations with higher engagement scores have managers who take time to provide employees periodic feedback and help them identify their strengths & improvement areas. This regular feedback helps employees perform better and showcase their talents and excel. Since they are putting their strengths to work, they perform with higher efficiency and effectiveness that in turns helps them to climb up the career ladder faster.

They encourage innovation

Managers who constantly challenge their employees to think out of the box experience higher engagement levels in their teams. Such managers not only encourage creativity and innovation, they also give their team members guarantee that they will stand by them even when there is failure. This gives the team reassurance to try newer ideas without the stress of getting reprimanded or facing any adverse action incase there Is no success. This allows the employees to perform without fear thus increasing their engagement levels.

They provide challenges

Managers understand that work can get monotonous for employees. It’s therefore essential to keep providing them challenges that will keep them interested at work. Challenges can be in the form of cross-functional team exposure for projects, exposure in another city or country or even horizontal movements across functions.

They delegate responsibility and authority

Organisations with high engagement scores have managers who’ve mastered the skill of delegation. These managers realize that doing everything themselves, is a sure shot way to set up themselves and their teams for failure. They understand that employees need to be empowered with responsibility as well as authority to complete the tasks assigned to them. Once an engaged employee knows that s/he is completely accountable for a task, he or she will work feverishly to mobilize all the resources required for it’s successful completion.

Employee engagement is not just a buzzword in organisations today – with the ever-increasing competition, employee engagement is one of the factors today that helps build a competitive edge in the business. Managers who take engagement seriously and build a value proposition for engagement see tremendous benefits. To be successful, engagement initiatives need to be a part of the holistic business strategy and should ultimately be integrated into the overall fabric of the organisation.

Many Thanks

Adam Chapman

Training Manager at MTD Training

http://www.management-training-development.com 

(Image by Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

 

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