Employee Engagement

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Employee Engagement

How is it critical to your business? What do employees need to feel engaged?
by Luanne Ramsey

Employee engagement in today’s climate of economic instability is critical to the overall success of an organization. Without employee engagement, productivity suffers, morale plummets, absenteeism increases, and high potential employees depart. Organizations are left with mediocrity which directly correlates to poorer outcomes in business results. Collectively, creating increased labor cost at a time when no one needs or can bear the added costs

What do engaged employees look like?

Engaged employees:

Are committed to high productivity.
Have good job satisfaction.
Are less likely to leave.
Contribute to success of the company at a higher level which translates into valuable business outcomes.
Are more likely to give an effort that goes beyond what is expected.
Believe that positive attitudes prevail.
Are team players.
Understand the big picture.
Take pride in the work they do and services or products the organization produces.

Evaluating Employee Satisfaction

If we examine the levers or drivers that affect our workforce, we can plan and take action to increase overall employee satisfaction and thus engagement.

Surveys are an important tool to gauge employee satisfaction. One step in the process that equates to success is establishing a senior leader and support person that have ultimate accountability to produce and communicate the progress and potential bottlenecks of the surveys. All of your company’s leaders need to commit to this exercise and add the tasks necessary for process into their schedule. There should also be clear timelines for follow up meetings communicated across the organization.

Prior to the survey, it is paramount to have much fan fare around the upcoming survey for maximum participation. As part of the preparation, empower teams across different business units to create an environment of honest feedback. A high participation rate and comfort level with giving open answers provides a true broad-based result of the common themes emerging in your workforce.

Once the root cause analysis is complete, the next step should be to begin the process of addressing the dissatisfaction and providing mechanisms to implement suggestions. Following the results of the survey, a team of highly motivated staff, mid-level managers and senior leaders should meet to extrapolate the data points and categorize the priority issues. This is the critical point in setting and meeting employee expectations.

Your survey procedures should also include a pulse survey six months after the original survey. The purpose of the pulse survey is to have employees answer questions that correlate to how well the action items from the original survey are being met. Basically, it’s the barometer as to how well the leaders responsible for both meeting and valuing the employees concerns are performing. With all the shifting priorities this is a necessary step in the process.

Certainly, there are many survey companies that are capable of performing this exercise. Suffice to say that this article is not geared to which survey company to use, but it is important to note the best results utilize both web based and paper driven survey tools. This ensures that all staff have access to give their feedback, and your results provide a realistic representation across the workforce. It is critical as well not to forget those employees that are on leave.

Culture of Communication

Creating a Culture of Communication establishes a sense of hope and trust with the employees. Share your company’s major business factors and your planned action item steps in as many streams possible. Utilizing your company intranet, newsletter, town hall meetings and paycheck stuffers are a few examples of methods of communication that are proven to be effective.

There are some very common themes that emerge across industries and company size, in regards to having a good Culture of Communication.

The top seven workplace factors Employees:

Trust senior management.
Are asked for their ideas and opinions on important matters.
Clearly understand the organization’s vision and strategic direction.
Trust their supervisors.
Receive recognition and praise for good work.
Have a clear say in decisions that affect their work.
Perceive their supervisors as caring and considerate of their well-being.
Due to the current state of the recession and need to drive down costs to stay profitable, companies have had to implement cost saving measures such as reducing workforce, hours and base pay. They have also had to freeze bonuses and 401K matches. These indicators need attention, but there are ways to help meet employees needs while maintaining the bottom line focus.

Ways to reaffirm commitment to employees during recession

Utilize incentives that produce reciprocity equaling rewards.
Provide job enrichment that allows employees to feel empowered and supports autonomous work.
Offer purposeful work to ensure the employee and leadership are aligned with project deliverables directly impacting the overall strategic goals.
Schedule team building opportunities that increase collaboration across business units.
Implement succession planning below the executive level to show employees that they are valued for their contribution. Clearly outline where they are now and what is needed to achieve the next level in their career.
Facilitate those employees ready for next career move now.
By applying these methods there is a clear message that employees will be compensated fairly for their efforts; recognized for both contributions as well as results; prepared for their next role; and have direct impact in the overall success of the company. Without this sense of commitment from the company, their loyalty erodes.

Achieving the high level of engagement is also dependent upon the visibility and accessibility of senior leaders. Transparency of the state of the union will also make employees feel connected and less anxious, as necessary changes are rolled out.

In conclusion, creating a culture that feeds engagement is necessary work that directly affects the bottom line. Engaged employees are your most valuable assets to sustaining the results needed to not only survive the times but to thrive while doing so.

Look for Luanne’s follow up article on employee entitlement next month.

Luanne Ramsey is the Business Development Manager for The Rosen Group. Luanne came to The Rosen Group in February 2008 with a unique background as both a staffing and human resources professional. She has nine years of experience in the global staffing industry–including experience as a Senior Recruiter, Staffing Manager, Branch Manager, and Business Development and Sales Manager. A seasoned HR Professional, Luanne has held leadership roles from Generalist, Employee Relations, and HR Manager to Business Partner for Global Medical, Pharmaceutical Organizations.

© 2009, The Rosen Group Newsletter. Reprinted with permission by The Rosen Group, specializing in Human Resources Solutions and HR Staffing.