December 15, 2008

Creating Engagement at Work

No, not the kind of engagement involving a ring and wedding, I’m referring to engagement of your team members.

Research by
Curt Coffman, co-author of First Break All the Rules indicates that there are three Types of Engagement in the workforce:

  • Engaged Employees: Productive in relationships, innovation, efficiency and impact. Represent 31% of workforce

  • Not Engaged: Do just enough to get by; don’t feel their talents are being fully utilized, if offered options will leave the organization. Represent 40% of workforce

  • Actively Disengaged: Are unhappy and act it out, unproductive and create a disruptive effect. Represent 29% of workforce

Take a minute and think about your workforce, would the percentages be the same? Have the percentages changed with the changing economy?

Times are challenging right now for just about all organizations. I truly believe that one way to improve our economic situation is to foster as much engagement at work as possible. If we increased the amount of engaged employees in the workforce we would have more folks thinking of innovative solutions to workplace challenges, they would be interested in building relationships with customers, and increasing efficiency. Wouldn’t your organization benefit from more of these folks?

People typically join organizations as engaged employees, excited about making a contribution. What could change someone from engaged to not engaged, or actively disengaged? Typically it is that they are disillusioned about something that is lacking in the workplace. Perhaps it is lack of information, feedback or simply that no one is listening to their ideas so they feel they aren’t valued.
The key to building engagement is your front line managers. Lately, I’ve heard a few managers say, “Who cares how we treat employees, where are they going to go in this economy? They should feel lucky to have a job right now.” The trouble with this thinking is that you will end up with a large group of employees in the Not Engaged category who will leave at the first opportunity when the economy improves. Once a negative, apathetic relationship has been created between a manager and his/her employees, it is very difficult to turn it around. People will remember how they are treated in good and bad times and will take this into consideration when facing a choice to leave your organization.

Since it is easier to build relationships instead of repairing them, what can managers do to build engagement? It starts with developing a relationship of open, trusting, communication. Managers need to get to know their team members, their strengths and likes and dislikes. Team members have to truly believe that their manager has faith in their abilities and will give them positive feedback when they do well and constructive feedback when things don’t go so well. If it is done in the spirit of “I want my team members to be the best they can be”, it will be appreciated as well as remembered.

Managers will need information on the importance of engagement and the benefits it brings to the workplace. After managers see the benefits, providing them with the tools such as communication, goal setting, listening, and feedback techniques will ensure success in creating a more engaged workforce.

1 comment:

Shirley Fine Lee said...

Find out more from the Employee Engagement Report 2008 conducted by BlessingWhite Intelligence at http://www.blessingwhite.com/EEE__report.asp.