Much is being written currently about employee engagement. It is an issue that rightly deserves the focus of employers, but what should their role be?
A fair question might be to ask, "What is employee engagement?" Or, perhaps, what does it look like in a typical workplace?
Employers are being advised insistently that engaged employees are beneficial and even profitable for their businesses. For example, a recent Gallup survey found that engaged employees experience more positive communications with customers and apparently have improved sales as a result.
While this and other observations may, in fact, hold true, the question remains for employers: "What is an engaged employee and what do I need to do?"
Defining Employee Engagement
Perhaps it can help to describe what a lack of employee engagement looks like in the workplace. Another Gallup report, the State of the Global Workplace, revealed that, among employees, nearly 85% report that they are either not engaged at all, or they are actively disengaged at work.
According to a Gallup blog post regarding the results of the report,
"Eighteen percent are actively disengaged in their work and workplace, while 67% are "not engaged." This latter group makes up the majority of the workforce -- they are not your worst performers, but they are indifferent to your organization. They give you their time, but not their best effort nor their best ideas. They likely come to work wanting to make a difference --- but nobody has ever asked them to use their strengths to make the organization better."
These employees are the ones who report being stressed either "all or most of the time at work" according to a report from Udemy. These are workers who have a higher than average rate of work days missed due to illness, contribute less in teams or in meetings, and exhibit a greater number of work-related conflicts with either co-workers or management.
And all of this "disengagement" among the bulk of company's workers is costing them. An article on the HRTechnologist website notes that,
"The consequences of a disengaged workforce are far-reaching for companies, including lower productivity, lacking morale, and high turnover rates. Each of these factors influences an employer’s bottom line significantly."
So, the natural question that employers might ask next is, "How can we fix this?"
Engaging Employees in the Workplace
While the signs and symptoms of "disengagement" can be recognized and even cataloged to a certain extent, the underlying cause still needs to be addressed.
One source has succeeded in distilling the primary factor in driving employee satisfaction and engagement. Market research company Forrester surveyed 14,000 information workers globally, across all industries, with a focus on the factors that impact their ability to make daily progress. Their goal was to understand what shapes employee experience, which they contend is the driving force behind engagement.
Forrester reported that their findings confirm that what largely creates the employee experience is,
"what they experience every day and that having the resources they need to succeed in the work their organizations expect of them is paramount."
A result of their study is an "index" of employee experience that supports engagement:
(Image from Forrester)
In addition to making it easier for employees to find task-critical information, there are a number of other approaches that can be taken by employers to address a lack of employee engagement in their workplaces.
According the HRTechnologist article, many businesses are leveraging social media to boost employee engagement. Essentially, the goal is to use the best platform and social media tools to help workers feel more connected, continuously. This improves engagement over time.
Some of the benefits of incorporating a workplace social media strategy include:
- Making connections within the workplace
- Celebrating successes and providing recognition
This approach should be used in conjunction with other, more traditional strategies such as employee career training and skills improvement resources.
Another employer approach for supporting and fostering engagement is in implementing services and activities for employees that are also often seen as simple "employee perks." However, instead of using them as "bonuses", rewards or simply company culture props to lure new talent, they should be viewed as tools to enhance employee inclusion, recognition and their sense of being valued by their employers.
Finding ways to incorporate food into the daily and weekly work life of employees is a powerful method of fostering relationship and inclusion. Whether it's simple snacks provided by the company or weekly (or monthly) catered lunches, eating together matters.
In fact, a survey from food service company ZeroCater, found that 90 percent of employers said that meals helped their employees build stronger relationships with colleagues, while 88 percent of employees consider office snacks to be an important part of their work life.
Although survey after survey reveals that employees rank bonuses or cash rewards far below recognition and other aspects of the job, profit sharing and stock options can be seen as positive way for the company to show their appreciation of employee's contributions.
In fact, the Harvard Business Review cites research that supports the idea that employees are more satisfied and more productive when they feel they are getting a portion of the company's profits.
The list of potential perks, programs, tools and strategies that can be implemented is wide and varied. As every business is different, the challenge for employers is to, first, recognize and identify a lack of genuine employee engagement in their organizations, and then to develop the strategies that provide the "best fit" for their culture, their industry and their size.
Expert Partners for Your HR Management
Employee development and engagement, building company culture and workforce management can all be part of the responsibilities of a company's HR staff. And oftentimes the tasks and demands can seem overwhelming. This is where having an alternative for your HR management can be highly beneficial.
Another key step in maintaining HR workload, while increasing your company's cost-effectiveness, is to consider outsourcing. A professional agency such as Accuchex can provide much-needed help with Human Resources needs and questions.
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