Our last blog entry looked at the challenge organizations face with employee engagement. According to Gallup Research, most companies have only 30% of their workers really making a difference in the company. These employees are giving that extra effort in order to see the company grow and succeed.
Half of the company is simply along for the ride. They may not be a drag on the company, but they sure aren’t making things easier for the 30% who are really trying.
That last 20%? They are actually giving extra effort as well, just not the right kind of effort! These people are sabotaging the entire organization, making life miserable for everyone.
So how does an organization change that 30% engagement number that’s held steady for the past 15 years? Adopting the following employee engagement strategies, while they won’t guarantee success, without them, it is a guarantee that your engagement numbers will remain flat for years to come.
As I've mentioned several times in previous blog entries, developing engaged employees (and engaging cultures) takes exhaustive, consistent, ferocious, deliberate, intense, aggressive, meticulous, and thoughtful energy and effort.
Are all of these words (and the list could be even longer) really necessary for employee engagement? YES! That was really the point of the last blog. Most organizations just talk about employee engagement or do very little in this area. While putting a foosball table in the break from, throwing an occasional pizza party, or having a summer picnic for employees and their families are certainly ideas to consider, doing just one or even all three of these ideas would not be considered aggressive or intense.
So what does an aggressive employee engagement strategy look like? Consider several of the above words.
Deliberate: Employee engagement doesn’t just happen. Organizations, particularly the HR people who are typically responsible for this area, must make employee engagement a top planning priority. Engagement must be part of the yearly goal-setting process.
Consistent: Employee engagement isn’t a quarterly goal. It isn’t an every other year thing. It’s all the time – forever. As long as the organization is in business, employee engagement must be part of the business plan. Let up for just a short time and your engagement scores will begin to flatten if not retreat.
Meticulous: Look for every opportunity to engage employees. Land a big contract? Celebrate with all the employees. Lose a big contract? Involve key employees to explore what happened and how that can be prevented in the future. Examine all your corporate policies and procedures and see how you can engage employees each and every day.
Aggressive: Think big! Ask the question, “What can we do here for the very first time?”
Author and management expert Tom Peters says, “The single most significant strategic strength that an organization can have is not a good strategic plan but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization.” In order to increase employee engagement scores, the organization must be committed to listening to its employees. This is done on a large scale such as corporate-wide yearly engagement surveys or more frequent pulse surveys and on a smaller scale with supervisors and leaders committed to listening to their direct reports and other employees.
Listening, though, is only half of the equation. Leaders must hear their employees! That doesn’t mean ever single item that is dropped into the suggestion box is implemented. It does mean that employees see the organization improving as a result of their opinions. Employees also want to hear back from their leadership, particularly executive leadership, on a regular basis. Employees want to know their hard work and their opinions make a difference in the company!
Everything the organization does, including employee engagement, must reflect the organization’s core values. Is Excellence a core value? How do your employee engagement efforts support and reflect this value? Is Respect a value? Be sure your engagement activities clearly show respect for all of the employees along with customers, vendors, and the community.
So be intense, listen, and reflect your core values as you commit to improving your employee engagement levels. Yes, you’ve been successful with just 30% of employees giving that extra effort. But what if more employees were actively “rowing the boat”? The possibilities are absolutely thrilling!
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