Culture does not emerge from employee engagement. Engagement is a product of the organizational culture.
- Greg Tricklebank
If you pay any attention to business management theory these days, you cannot escape the concept of Employee Engagement.
Kevin Kruse, on Forbes.com, provides a typical definition:
“Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to the organization and its goals, resulting in the use of discretionary effort.”
Years ago, we just called it morale. The point is that engaged employees are emotionally invested in the whole firm – they believe in what they are doing and are dedicated to their peers, their supervisors and their organization. The firm’s mission provides them with purpose. They are loyal to the people and the brand.
When done right, engagement is a powerful cocktail, and the power is contained within the concept of discretionary effort - increased levels of employee engagement correlate with higher profit, productivity, creativity, retention, and customer satisfaction while decreasing absenteeism, turnover, and accidents.
There are concepts that are becoming broadly accepted as organizations struggle to cope with constant and accelerating change: cooperation, flattened organizations, cross-functional teams, eliminating silos, creative problem-solving, and innovation. These can’t happen without an empowered and engaged workforce. And employees who don’t have every bit of available information at their fingertips – without friction – are not empowered. Employees who do not know exactly where they stand with respect to their personal and professional development will never be fully engaged.
Engaging employees and ensuring “fit” requires that leaders and managers develop an awareness of the impact that uncertainty and constant change creates. It requires a continuous communication plan – including authentic, face-to-face contact. Employees need to know what contributions they can make and what personal impact they may face. Above all, employees need to know that leaders and managers care about what happens to them.
Employees need to contribute to discussions that involve their work. It is a key signal from management that their knowledge and efforts are respected. This can also provide a critical learning opportunity for leaders. Ultimately, this provides employees with the sense that they are contributing to the overall goals of the organization, this, in turn, provides meaning and purpose to their work.
At the root of above average performance is a workplace culture that engages employees. It is typically a necessity, and often, the only solution.
Employee Engagement Statistics
For those organizations who would like to evaluate their own engagement, the most commonly referenced instruments for measuring employee engagement are the Gallup instrument or the Conference Board “Employee Engagement Barometer”. These can provide managers with reliable information regarding employees’ attitudes and engagement levels.
Some numbers for comparison:
Recent data from Aon Hewitt on employee engagement:
- 4 employees out of 10 are not engaged
- Engagement rates are not improving significantly
Gerard Seijts and Dan Crim from the Ivey Business School, report that 54% of employees are not engaged. More troubling yet are the 17% of employees who are actively disengaged and, “...busy acting out their unhappiness, undermining what their engaged co-workers are trying to accomplish.”
Research has time and again proven the powerful connection between employee engagement and employee performance – and how that connection results in organizational success. To good leaders this is not news, it is something that has been intuitive to them for some time.
Digging into the research a little further, it quickly becomes obvious that employees are not failing to engage in their work. What does exist is a failure of leaders and managers to create an engaging work environment.
It is time for managers to reconsider their personal conception of the practice of management, leadership, and employee engagement.
Creating Employee Engagement
Engagement is not something that just happens – it is the result of involved leaders who carefully create a work climate that supports employees with the right skills, knowledge, and development opportunities. And most importantly, who support them when the going gets tough. In fact, the most reliable indicator for employee engagement is the relationship that exists between the employee and their immediate supervisor.
While it is important to recognize that employee engagement is not a distinct thing that you "do", Delta Partners does offer a number of services to evaluate the current state of employee engagement in your organization and to help you build the crucial skills that are necessary to develop an environment conducive to positive employee engagement:
- Employee Engagement Survey
- Measuring Employee Engagement
- Engagement Assessment
- Improving Employee Engagement
- Communication Framework
- Leadership Development
- Coaching & Mentoring
- Trust Assessment
- Adapting to a Changing Workforce
- Intergenerational Organizational Readiness