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5 Steps to Get Engaged!

What’s the buzz all about? It’s engagement … and to be more specific, employee engagement!

Gone are the days when managers were able to retain employees who had little to do each day; today budgets are tighter and the push for efficiency is running high. Today it’s a Buyers’ job market and the economy demands that managers produce high quality goods and services with far fewer resources, humans included!

But as this reality sets in, I was surprised by some interesting stats in a 2011 Employee Engagement Report compiled by consultants at BlessingWhite:

  • Only 31% of employees worldwide are “engaged” and 17% are actually disengaged.
  • Engaged employees plan to stay for what they give; the disengaged stay for what they get.
  • There’s a strong correlation in organizations between levels of engagement and Age, Role/Level, and Tenure.
  • Engagement levels are impacted more by one’s trust in senior executives than one’s trust in immediate managers.
  • Executives appear to struggle with key leadership behaviors, especially what’s required to create a high-performance culture.
  • Managers are not necessarily doing the things that matter most to employees.
  • Actions most correlated with high engagement are not always the ones that receive the most favorable ratings.

What they found was that the top drivers for job satisfaction worldwide came from employee opportunities (1) to apply their talents; (2) for career development; and (3) to receive skill-enhancement training.

Does this surprise you? If not, I wonder why there’s a statistically significant number of managers who are not doing the things that matter most to employees! Practically speaking, I’m one who believes if I’m going to spend at least 8 hours each day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks each year of my roughly 45 years of life working outside the home, I want it to be meaningful.

Do you want to spark “flash-engagement”? Well, perhaps it won’t happen that quickly but it’s still possible. Many employers just have to “retool” their organizational cultures if they want engagement to take a stronghold. Think of cultural retooling like growing seeds: the environment has to be “furtile” or the seedlings will wither.

But how can you make the environment “furtile”? If you’re looking for ideas on how to get employees more engaged, here are 5 Steps to help get you started:

  1. Two-way feedback mechanisms must be in place so employees can communicate up their organizational chains on a regular basis.
  2. Trust building must take place (or employees already must have trust in their leadership)
  3. Organizations have to provide formal and information career development and internal mobility tracks to employees.
  4. Employees have to understand: (1) how their jobs fit into the big picture; (2) what they must do more of; and (3) what they must do differently to help the business succeed.
  5. Decision making has to be a shared activity within the organization (and pushed to the lowest possible level possible).

Finally, check out Esther Reyes’ GL post “By the People: Employee Engagement“. She offers some great insights as well as resources to “Get Engaged”; Michelle Rosenblum shares some training ideas in her GL post Dealing with Employee Engagement & Today’s Generation Gap“; and in another GL post “What About Employee Engagement?“, Shannon Donelson shares a great paper about Improving Employee Engagement to Do More With Less.

Related Post: Are You Planning to Fail Today?

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Terrence (Terry) Hill

Speaking of engagement, while watching this short film on how cities will drive global change, I keyed in on one innovation that many cities use to engage citizens. They have apps to notify officials of pot holes, malfunctioning traffic lights, report crime, and others. I was thinking that it would be nice if organizations had similar apps to communicate with management about malfunctions in systems, mis-communications, and violations of values, as well as to report on positive outcomes. Organizations could engage their employees using technology that virtually everyone has at their fingertips. Of course, this would require that leadership is engaged and uses the same technology, as well as commits to being responsive to employees. This use of technology would remove communication barriers (e.g. levels of management, bureaucracy, etc.), increase engagement, and foster innovation.

Jack Shaw

Unfortunately that about covers why government has such a bad rap. Most has to do with the few who stay and stay and take and take, and giving as little true engagement as necessary. Great post.

Andy Lowenthal

A very important topic, Doris. I think all too often we tend to focus on how to help the worst of the 17% that may be disengaged, when instead we could realize tremendous results if we really engaged and empowered the roughly middle 50% of employees that might aptly be described as “neither engaged nor disengaged.” That’s where the action is, IMO.

Jack Shaw

Do you suppose it is possible the 17% that may be engaged are part of the reason we have 50% as neither engaged nor disengaged? I think it is possible the disengaged can bring down the norm. It is also possible they are the ones who also disrespect the government for all their woes. However, 50 % has to be significant and I can’t imagine a company doing well with those numbers. Engagement of people begins by giving people what they need, showing them how they fit in, and rewarding them accordingly. Otherwise people only do what they do for survival and that’s not good. Up-to-date technology may address some of the problems but temporarily. Getting employees true empowerment is hard because someone has to give up control and many people don’t like it or trust it. I remember we “empowered” the secretaries (now administrative assistants and we do a lot of what we had them do) because we offered them empowerment. Chalk it up to win-some, lose some.