What Drives Engagement?

What Drives Engagement?

Top ten global engagement drivers

You have at least met (if not work with) someone who is NOT engaged– they show up and barely do the job.

What can be a delight for co-workers and managers is someone who is “actively engaged.” Engagement is when an employee expends discretionary extra effort in their job— studies show that about 20% of US workers fit this category but some organizations have more than 40% engaged workers.

What influences an employee to go “Above and beyond?”

I have grouped them into four categories and will discuss suggestions for improving these (see number 1 below) with future articles.

1. How the organization treats people

  • Senior management sincerely interested in employee well-being
  • Organization’s reputation for social responsibility
  • Organization quickly resolves customer concerns

2. What is valued at the organization?

  • Set high personal standards
  • Organization encourages innovative thinking

3. Employee role/ relationship

  • Good relationship with supervisor
  • Employees feel they have input into decision-making in their department

4. Development and career opportunities

  • Enjoy challenging work assignments that broaden skills
  • Improved my skills and capabilities over the last year
  • Have excellent career advancement opportunities

(Source : Towers Watson study of the global workforce, Closing the Engagement Gap)

Many managers may be surprised that social responsibility and how customers are treated impacts employee performance. But employees are always considering not just how they are treated, but also how others are treated, and want to take pride in their employer and the organization’s decisions and direction. (For example, I have a colleague who begrudgingly took a job at a local company that is under investigation by the DEC for polluting the neighborhood, and she is not exactly “proud” to promote her new position.)

Three steps you can take NOW to improve employee perceptions of how people are treated:

  1. Spend 10 minutes once a week going around to exchange “small talk” with employees, finding out more about their lives outside the office and what is important to them (bonus points if you know names of kids, grandkids, and pets as well as favorite hobbies)
  2. Ask your key team members to suggest one way the organization can improve social or environmental responsibility, and then implement this idea
  3. Decide one way customers requests can be fulfilled more quickly or conveniently.

Thanks to Terry Williams of the Brain Based Boss for alerting me to this interesting research.

Are you helping your staff grow?

Are you helping your staff grow?

I have the spent the past few weeks having conversations with senior managers in a variety of small and mid-sized organizations, ranging in size from one with 7 employees to one with over 700.

These conversations focus on how we can work together to assist their people to help these organizations achieve 2013 goals, but often the conversation turns to how to develop the staff they have.

These managers like their staff and want to see them grow and contribute more, as well as be more connected to the organization and more fulfilled in their work. They want to retain these team members and to provide meaningful rewards.

Many managers and organizations seem to be challenged by the prospect of how to develop employees, such identifying what skills are needed and how to accomplish this when there is “no time for training.”

A recent book (Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni) may provide some answers, and challenges some of the myths that prevent smaller employers from focusing development efforts on their team (if they grow they will leave us, the employee is responsible for her own career, it’s about the money, development plans are for the Fortune 500 or just senior managers).

According to Kaye and Giulioni, “Career development is as important as it’s ever been (maybe more). In today’s business environment, talent is the major differentiator. And developing that talent is one of the most significant drivers of employee engagement, which in turn is the key to the business outcomes you seek: revenue, profitability, innovation, productivity, customer loyalty, quality, and cycle time reduction.”

One insight is that employee development can be accomplished with informal, brief, focused “10-minute conversations” that uncover an employee’s aspirations and goals and matches to learning opportunities.

-Diana Southall

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High Involvement work practices engage employees

High Involvement work practices engage employees

Organizational effectiveness scholar Edward Lawler identified four “high involvement” principles that have a positive impact on employee engagement– power, information, knowledge and rewards.

What Lawler called “Power” (also referred to as autonomy or independence) means that employees have the power to make decisions that are important to their performance and to the quality of their working lives. Power can mean a relatively low level of influence, as in providing input into decisions made by others or it can mean having final authority and accountability for decisions and their outcomes. Involvement is maximized when the highest possible level of power is pushed down to the employees that have to carry out the decisions

Read more about Lawler’s principles for a high involvement workplace

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Total Rewards #5- Autonomy/ Independence

Total Rewards #5- Autonomy/ Independence

A leader is best when

  • people barely know that she exists, 
  • not so good when people obey and acclaim him, 
  • worst when they despise her
  • But of a good leader, who talks little,  When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,  They will all say, ‘We did this ourselves.’ 

-Lao Tzu

Most employees want to be involved in decisions that affect their work.

Every manager has her own style in how much they involve employees to make decisions that are important to their performance and to the quality of their working lives. Some choose to “command and control” and some are more lenient —see continuum of leadership chart below. Studies show that employees have higher engagement under a manager that is more participative and democratic (toward the right side of the chart).

Employees do not expect that they will make the final decision in all cases, but if it affects their work they want to at least be given an opportunity to discuss and suggest.

Read abstract of Tannenbaum & Schmidt article on this leadership continuum 

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