To be successful, organizations must take responsibility for their greatest asset – their workforce. And while meeting the needs of an often diverse group may seem challenging, companies can start by simply identifying their three basic types of workers: engaged, actively disengaged, and non-engaged.
Engaged employees consistently work with passion and feel connected to the company. Actively disengaged employees are typically unhappy and project their misery by undermining engaged workers and sabotaging progress. Not-engaged employees aren’t disruptive, but they’re not particularly motivated either; they do just enough to fulfill job requirements.
Current studies show that only 30 percent of U.S. employees are engaged. Companies that are able to change this, and convert their non-engaged workers into engaged ones, will discover a profitable, performance-improving opportunity.
And how is this accomplished? By letting employees know they’re seen and respected as unique individuals and by understanding the talents, beliefs, and goals that drives each individual’s performance. Specific strategies for doing so, says Robyn Reilly, a senior consultant at Gallup, are as follows:
Use the right employee engagement survey: If you ask your employees their opinions, they’ll expect action to follow. Don’t make the common mistake of using employee surveys to collect information that is irrelevant. Any survey data must be specific and actionable for any team at any organizational level. Data should also be proven to influence key performance metrics.
Focus on engagement at both local and organizational levels: If top-level employees set the tone for greater engagement, positive change at the local workgroup level will follow. When leaders weave engagement into performance expectations for managers, and allow them to execute on those expectations, you’ll gain the most benefit from engagement initiatives. All employees must feel empowered to make a significant difference in their environment. Managers should work with employees to identify roadblocks to engagement and opportunities for positive change.
Select the right managers: The best managers understand that their success and that of the organization relies on employees’ achievements. They try to understand each person’s strengths and give them opportunities to use them. Make sure to select managers who empower their employees, recognize and value their contributions, and actively seek their ideas and opinions. Businesses that scientifically select the right managers will greatly increase the odds of engaging their employees.
Coach managers properly and effectively: Research has found that managers are mainly responsible for their employees’ engagement levels. Organizations should coach managers to take an active role in building engagement plans with their employees, and hold them accountable for the results. Follow up by tracking their progress and making sure they continue to emotionally engage employees.
Define engagement goals in realistic terms: Leaders must make engagement goals meaningful to employees’ day-to-day experiences. Have them describe what success looks like, in order to give meaning to their goals and build commitment within a team. Weave engagement into daily interactions, by having managers discuss employee engagement at weekly meetings, in action-planning sessions, and in one-on-one meetings with employees.