This is a second in a series of articles on what employers can do NOW to avoid losing the engagement game.
Here is Part One | This is Part Two
The stakes are indeed high: as I reported earlier, turnover can cost between 150%-250% of an employee’s salary not to mention the cost of morale as valued talent walks out the door. As you read this article you will discover there is more at stake than the cost of turnover.
What is Engagement?
Towers Perrin defines employee engagement as:
…”the extent to which employees put discretionary effort into their work, in the form of extra time, brainpower and energy” Gallop says that engaged employees “feel connected, emotionally, socially and even spiritually” to the organization’s purpose.
We have all observed teams that beat the odds and win. Some examples include the Butler men’s basketball team’s performance at the NCAA finals this year or the ‘Miracle on Ice‘ US hockey team in the 1980 Olympics. Research tells us that only between 17% and 29% of employees are actually engaged in their work. Think about it. If only 2-3 players on a basketball or soccer team were actually engaged, how do you think that team would perform? They certainly would not have a winning track record.
So what do athletic teams and teams in the workplace need to do to reach their optimal performance levels? There are two key ingredients:
B) Allowing team members to work from their natural strengths.
What can employers do to engage staff?
1. Provide leadership training.
Few people are born with innate leadership capabilities. Leadership is a learned skill. Make certain your leaders are set up for success with ongoing learning opportunities. Here are two key concepts leaders need to learn. They need to take the time to build relationships and trust with each of their direct reports.
Whether leaders are co-located or work virtually, they need to spend time getting to know each staff member on a personal basis. Find out what they like to do. Learn about what excites them and increases their energy and commitment. Second, leaders need to support the continuous learning and career ambitions of their staff.
This is particularly important for Millennials who are often motivated to continuously learn and achieve.
One of the biggest complaints we hear from virtual staff is that they feel invisible and ignored. Make certain you have career discussions with your dispersed and global staff.
2. Create a coaching culture.
Feedback is a key to establish a continuous learning environment. Managers need to learn how to provide feedback in a way that employees can hear it and benefit from it. Teach managers coaching skills. Millennial staff expect to be coached. Coaching is a skill all managers should acquire.
3. Provide tools to help leaders learn about individual strengths.
When people work from their strengths, they are more productive and more satisfied.
“Employees who have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life.”
The research goes on to say that people who are not operating from strengths at work probably suffer from the following symptoms:
- Dread coming to work
- Have more negative than positive interactions with co-workers and customers
- Frequently tell friends about the lousy company they work for
- Contribute less creativity to the organization.
To combat the cause of disengaged employees, I use tools to help people work in their zones of strengths. One amazing tool that focuses on strengths is the 5 Dynamics Assessment. It is taken online in only 2-5 minutes and provides people and leaders with four powerful reports: an individual report, a team profile, a coach report and a colleague report.
So Why Bother?
What will your organization gain by focusing on employee engagement?
Highly engaged employees outperform their disengaged colleagues by 20-28% according to the Conference Board. A study of 28 multinational companies by Serota Consulting found that the share price of organizations with highly engaged employees rose by an average of 16% compared with an industry average of 6%.
On the other side of the high stakes coin, there are enormous costs associated with a disengaged workforce.
Disengagement can cost between $243-$270 billion dollars a year due to low productivity according to a Gallup poll. In one study by ISR, companies with low levels of employee engagement found that their net profit fell by 1.38% and operating margins fell by 2.01% over a three-year period.
In comparison, companies with high levels of engagement found that their operating margins rose by 3.74% over a three-year period. You do the math. How costly is disengagement? It may not show up directly on the company ledger but the ROI on investing in engagement strategies is significant.
What will your company do now to raise the engagement levels of staff? What will you do to train your leaders and hold them accountable for engaging staff? How will you learn more about the strengths of each staff member?
Here is Part One | This is Part Two
Barb Miller is President of Artemis Management Consultants
She specializes in executive coaching, leadership & team development
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