According to Gallup, many companies are approaching employee engagement from the wrong angle. Instead of viewing the subject in general terms like creating a positive office atmosphere, it asserts HR personnel should focus on the specific work-related items that the rank and file require to be productive.
Gallup asked a group of U.S.-based professionals about the tools, business processes and other resources that are available to them in the workplace. About a third of the participants ended up meeting the study’s productivity-focused definition of an engaged employee while the rest expressed various degrees of dissatisfaction.
The pollster correlated the responses with market data to measure the impact that a business-oriented approach to encouraging productivity can make.
According to Gallup, teams that rank among the top quarter of their companies in engagement outperform the others across practically all major business criteria.
Their lead is especially noticeable when compared to the bottom quarter. Employees at the best-scoring units are on average 17% more productive, receive 10% higher marks when it comes to customer engagement, and generate 20% more sales.
Added up, Gallup claims that the net result is a 21% difference in profitability among the surveyed groups.
The improved business performance that to-the-point engagement policies seem to produce is mirrored in employees’ attitudes toward their work. According to Gallup, the most engaged teams generally see 44% fewer unwarranted employee absences than the bottom quarter while also experiencing lower turnover, which is likely another one of the factors behind their increased profitability.
The fact that fewer resources have to go towards finding and training replacements is by itself beneficial the bottom line, even when not taking into account the impact on overall output.
The study found that only 37% of the employees considered engaged are actively looking for new jobs, a much smaller proportion than in the broader workforce. The specific turnover rate varies among companies. Organizations with a high annualized burn rate (which Gallup defines as more than 40%) on average achieve 24% less turnover by following its engagement checklist, while firms with higher retention see a massive 59% improvement. The efficiency gains from holding onto employees longer can add up quickly on such a scale.
Gallup collected the engagement data at the center of its study using a poll that contained just 12 questions about respondents’ work life. It covered core topics such as whether they have all the equipment they need and how much room there is for advancement in their company. According to the pollster, these questions have changed little in the roughly 20 years that it’s been conducting such studies due to one simple reason: addressing the core work priorities in an office remains the most important part of engaging employees. In other words, many firms would do well to return to the basics before setting up that extra ping-pong table in the recreational area.
Employee surveys consistently show that the single most important factor in employee engagement is an employee’s relationship with his or her direct manager. In fact, employees don’t leave companies; they leave their managers. And they’re willing to do this despite tough economic conditions.
According to HR Magazine, engaged employees perform 20% better and are 87% less likely to leave an organization. So, managers and team leaders need to become expert relationship builders and they need to learn how to nourish and sustain those relationships over time.
Managers can build and maintain strong employee relationships at the employee level by:
Employees need to know that they are working for their own goals as much as the organization’s when they come into work each day. When they have this understanding, they also realize how their individual role impacts business profitability overall.
Your organization’s core values should be conducive to creating a work environment that enables active employee engagement and provide employees with opportunities to demonstrate the company’s core values through their daily work.
In high performing organizations, employees and leaders regularly refer to and use their core value statements as a real time compass and positive shaper of both formal environment and work life behaviors.
For true leaders at every organizational level, the organization’s core values are the moral, ethical and even spiritual law of the land. High engagement employees thrive on being treated fairly and honestly.
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The strongest organizational science is clearly teaching us that employee recognition simultaneously builds and maintains healthy employee/manager relationships and greatly impacts bottom-line performance. Organizations who actively recognize their employees see a 6% higher net profit margin over companies who don’t. [ Towers Watson Study ]
Doing effective employee recognition is all about implementing the “3 R’s of employee rewards and recognition:”
R1: The Right Kind of Behaviors — Role Behaviors proven to meet clearly stated performance goals. Examples of clearly defined and communicated performance goals include:
R2. At the Right Times — It turns out that the best time to provided effective employee recognition is right when the employee is doing or completing a performance goal.
R3. In The Right Ways – Recognition is something that must happen consistently throughout the year and not just as an annual event. 43% of engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week compared to only 18% of employees with low engagement.
Feeling valued, confident, inspired, enthused and empowered are the key emotions that lead to employee engagement. These emotions can’t be fostered unless you build strong relationships with your employees and by seeing them as human beings.
Actively engaged employees are fully aware and secure in the knowledge that their managers really know them and care about them as human beings. Employees thrive when managers really understand and connect with them through the lenses of their personal values, goals and passions.
Aligning individual goals and organizational goals through shared values is one of the most important distinctions between real leadership and management. Key questions here include:
The bottom line: A healthier happier employee is a more productive and engaged employee who sticks around for years and rarely misses work.
Heightened employee well-being directly translates into increased employee engagement and performance. The world’s leading organizations are growing and sustaining employee well-being through integrated work-life balance and innovative employee assistance programs.
These wellness and support initiatives provide everything from personal money management to professional counseling with relationship, parenting and stress management experts. They also provide employees with flex time planning and work from home options towards maximizing work life balance in an ever increasing world of stress and responsibility.
Can you think of a better way to show genuine interest and concern at the employee manager interface than to help solve serious stress, parenting, marriage, family and money problems?
Many employees have a shared need to know that their work is making a positive difference in the world and to their fellow human beings.
High performance organizations identify and facilitate ways for their employees to give back to the community as a function of their work — running employee driven community assistance, volunteering and go-green programs.
The most effective workplace giving programs allow individual employee’s and teams to define the why, the how and the when of giving back. They also provide solid tools and processes for formally meeting co-created community giving goals.
Now that you understand the importance of building strong positive relationships and organizational bonding at the employee/manager level, the next question becomes what do you do with all this new positive relationship energy and employee motivation to generate results driven organizational performance?
Again, help employees understand how their behaviors align with performance goals. It’s really a cascading effect: senior leadership identify the over-arching business objectives for the organization, managers then take these objectives and create more focused goals for their teams, and then employees, in partnership with their managers, need to establish their individual goals. The performance management process is crucial to facilitating this process.
In general, help employees establish personal goals by using the using the SMART methodology:
Specific — Goals are objective, clearly stated and very specific.
Measurable — The goal’s progress is measurable in terms of objective and easily share-able quantity quality and time measures.
Attainable — It’s one that you can actually achieve and is realistic. High performing organizations don’t reward goals attainment that is outside of the control of employees or team members. They primarily define, recognize and reward goals that are within the complete control of a given employee’s control.
Relevant — This is where the organizational performance dimension comes into play. Goals need to be clearly linked to meaningful business or positive organizational outcomes. Key questions here include:
Time Bound — The question here becomes: When will the particular task, project or goal be completed? Not only does time-limiting a goal facilitate performance by reducing wasted time, but it enables for time based process and quality improvements as well.
Setting time bound goals also enables managers to precision target their recognition and reward efforts on employee behaviors that approximate, meet and exceed clearly predefined expectations.
Only 27% of employees feel they are involved in the important decisions made by their organizations. Yet the bottom line is that increased employee involvement = increased employee engagement.
Employees are more likely to buy into and feel a motivation-enhancing sense of ownership for goals when they play a major role in creating them versus feeling that they are simply executing someone else’s vision. In short, it evokes a sense of ownership and shareholder stake in the success of the business.
The essence of operating as a high-performing team and using team-based organizational design is that you already have all of the basic ingredients needed to capitalize on active employee engagement. For example, effective teams must communicate, collaborate and interact with each other in order to meet their goals and objectives.
Effective team leaders know how to instill trust in their teams so that each employee can work with each other and share work, they also know how to reduce conflict by helping each member of the team to get to know one another better and to understand each other’s personalities, and finally, good leaders know how to increase collaborative efforts by conferring with each other and valuing each other’s opinions.
Really high performance teams actually distribute the leadership role among team members, taking on and relinquishing the leadership role based on the team’s current performance goals and by recognizing and leveraging the “superpowers” of each team member.
The world’s leading high engagement organizations hire for leadership potential as expressed in individual values that align with core organizational values. Finding employees who will fit into the company’s culture is more important than hiring based on work role competency.
For example, a high performing team is a direct result of the leader who manages it. The best managers have personalities that are predisposed to the role: strong work ethic, natural leadership, genuine interest in helping others, and intent on finding the right solutions.
Underperforming, low-engagement organizations, on the other hand, continue to hire managers primarily based on their work skills rather than their demonstrated capacity for leadership effectiveness. These are the organization’s who are most likely to be hemorrhaging top talent.
These are the same managers who can’t tell you what their organization’s core values are or why each value is most critical in continuously guiding and shaping a real high-engagement organization through expert relationship building and maintenance.
What are your organization’s core values? What is the best example of when you consciously made a leadership decision today, that was in complete alignment with those values?
Gone are the days of the dreaded annual performance review. Discover how GoCo’s modern HR software can help you have better one-on-ones to keep your employees engaged and retain top talent.
This article is by Elizabeth Lupfer from thesocialworkplace.com.