Are your employees engaged?

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Print this page By Genevieve Roberts, Partner and HR Consultant, Titan Group LLC

Employee engagement is vital to the success of businesses. Studies show that employees engaged in their studies are happier and more productive. Sadly, the national average employee engagement score is 60 on a scale of 100, where 100 equals high engagement. This means that most companies are middle of the road on being able to attract and sustain employees who feel committed to the organization and very secure in their jobs.

Improving employee engagement has been a much-written about trend in the human resources industry. Why?  Well, I believe engagement refers to the degree to which employees connect with their work and feel committed to their organization and its goals.  As a business owner myself, it is important to know how engaged my employees are because workers who are highly engaged are more likely to:

  • feel excited and enthused,
  • are less aware of the passage of time,
  • devote discretionary effort to the activity,
  • identify with the task and describe themselves to others in the context of the task (“accountant,” “engineer”),
  • think about the questions or challenges posed by the activity during spare moments (for example, while driving to work),
  • resist distractions and find it easier to stay focused, and
  • invite others into the activity (enthusiasm is contagious).

There are many benefits to having more highly engaged folks since people who feel engaged in their work have been found to enjoy work more, to be more successful, and to contribute more to the organization. Engagement is a win/win for employee and employer, and everyone plays a pivotal role in employee engagement.  Research has shown that people who are engaged in their work are also more productive.  Other benefits of an engaged workforce include:

  • retention rates increase,

  • innovation and collaboration are enhanced,

  • customer satisfaction levels increase, and

  • results over a period of time are reflected in concrete bottom line results, shareholder value, and return on investment.
    The behaviors associated with different levels of engagement include the highest level where the employee knows expectations and is personally and professionally secure. At the engaged level, the employee often understands expectations, is somewhat secure and is easily motivated. The disengaged employee questions expectations is insecure and dissatisfied.  The bottom level employee does not know expectations and is fearful and very bitter.

    The engagement level of your employees is indicative of their commitment to the organization and their probable level of “happiness” working in your company.  Knowing these engagement scores is an important step toward developing strategies for increasing their commitment. 
    The relationship with a manager and overall satisfaction with employment are two of the greatest contributors to employee job satisfaction.  In fact, research has shown that it takes 12 engaged people to overcome just one highly disengaged person. 
    If you think your companies engagement score is low, you should look for some of these symptoms:

    • lack of commitment to the organization
    • low levels of enthusiasm
    • higher than desired turnover
    • low levels of customer satisfaction
    • possible discipline problems
    • lower than desired levels of productivity

    So what can you do?  I have provided just a short list of ideas and there are many more and getting a good survey done can help you pinpoint the areas needing help.  However consider these:
    1. Evaluate your culture.
    2. Invest in developing your people.
    3. Ensure the right person is in the right leadership role.
    4. Address lack of leadership issues straight on.
    5. Train managers on developing “people skills” i.e. Learn how to flex their styles to meet their employees’ needs.
    6. Figure out what kind of employees do well at your company and go get more of them.
    7. Make sure that your employees are in the right roles for their skills and interests.
    8. Branding is not just for marketing, develop an employment brand that matches who your company really is.

    Who knows if employee engagement metrics are here to stay, but it certainly is worth finding out where your company stands.

    Genevieve Roberts is managing principal of Richmond-based Titan Group LLC and can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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