How can we improve engagement? This is literally a million dollar question.
It’s well-known that organizations with high employee engagement tend to have stronger financial performance. Yet a huge proportion of workers in most organizations are still not engaged.
What is engagement and how do you measure it?
Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to the organization and its goals.
Gallop uses a 12 question survey to assess engagement. Another leading consultancy, Aon Hewitt, measures engagement using a say-stay-strive approach. Under this definition, if a worker says positive things about his or her organization, is committed to staying, and strives to give his or her best at work, then the person is engaged.
Focus on three key levers: organizational, managerial and individual.
Lever #1 – Take informed and visible organizational action.
If your organization doesn’t conduct an employee survey regularly to measure engagement, it’s time to start. The results provide a baseline for what percentage of your workforce is engaged. Results also help identify common areas that drive engagement for your organization.
Once you learn which of these drivers are most important to your employees, then you can focus organizational efforts and initiatives in a strategic way to get the biggest bang for your buck.
The real power in this lever is to demonstrate to those you surveyed that you heard their feedback and are acting on it.
Lever #2 – Help managers build engagement in those they lead.
Strategic and informed organizational actions are great, but one size does not fit all employees.
As the saying goes that Buckingham and Coffman made famous … employees join organizations but leave managers.
Managers are in the best position to help understand and influence an individual’s engagement.
Do your managers know what’s currently driving engagement for the individuals they lead? How can you help them?
One huge multinational firm armed managers and mentors with a simple one page Personal Engagement List they could use in career conversations with individuals they lead. An employee completed the List by force-ranking which areas of work were currently most important (e.g., career opportunities, recognition, pay, people, organizational reputation, etc.) and then rating satisfaction in each area.
When individuals shared their Lists in 1:1 career discussions with their managers or mentors, employees rated these conversations 10% more valuable than discussions where this List wasn’t used.
One individual commented, “I’ve worked for my boss for 7 years, and I finally feel like she gets what is important to me in my work and career.”
Lever #3 – At an individual level, own your personal engagement.
How engaged are you?
The more engaged you are, the more effective you will be in your role and the more effective you will be in helping others’ engagement.
Here are a couple of tips for improving your own engagement.
- Complete your own Personal Engagement List (see above). Discuss this with a trusted manager or mentor and identify actions you will take from this exercise to improve your engagement.
- Know your “why.” In other words, remember how your work helps advance the organization’s mission, serves your customers needs and achieves your own priorities and goals.
Being proactive and taking ownership of your own engagement will likely improve it.
There’s no magic switch to get people motivated and committed in their work. But organizations good at engaging their people focus efforts at an organizational, managerial and individual level.
Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. As a leadership consultant and executive coach, he helps executives and their teams improve their engagement, effectiveness and impact. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr.