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What are Your Employees Really Wishing for This Holiday Season?


This week the Gallup U.S. Daily Tracking Survey reported that, in November, the percentage of U.S. workers that Gallup considers engaged in their jobs averaged 32.1%. This is consistent with monthly averages that Gallup has tracked all year.

So, this means almost 60% of U.S. employees are not engaged in their work, and therefore not fully involved in or committed to their organization’s success. This is a big problem for our employees and organizations.

Engaged employees drive the innovation, growth and revenue that their companies need. Engaged employees perform better, work harder, longer, smarter and contribute innovative solutions for organization improvement and success.

Engage for Success is an employee engagement movement in the UK, co-founded by David MacLeod and Nita Clarke. In their research, they identified several key elements that combine for successful employee engagement.

I’ve incorporated four of the common themes they found present in organizations with highly engaged employees, into a holiday wish list, from your employees to you. Considering these ideas and making some changes can  provide a big boost to employee engagement, as well as the achievement of organizational goals and overall sense of well-being in the coming year.

Have a Strong Story

Where have we been? Where are we going? Do our employees know? Do they feel a part of it? Is the vision compelling and authentic, provided by leaders who are empowering and visible? Do they feel like they are contributing and have a hand in the outcomes and successes? If not, then make it a priority to start sharing and including employees in crafting the next chapter through regular in-person and written communication.

Empower Engaging Managers

Engaging managers make employees feel part of the team. They communicate with employees on clear objectives and how their work contributes to the organization’s goals and objectives. They coach, challenge and bring the best out in employees.

Engaging managers put considerable effort into making sure the successes and achievements of individuals and teams are fully acknowledged and create a culture of praise and acknowledgment. They are approachable and available when needed. Engaging managers make sure employees are valued as individuals and regularly acknowledged and appreciated.

Give Employees A Voice

Do your employees feel they are heard at all levels of the organization? Engaged employees want to feel they are listened to and invited to contribute their expertise and ideas to solutions. When they feel they have a say and that their voice is heard, acknowledged and listened to, employee engagement increases. Embracing this concept can be the cheapest red flag warning system to install in your workplace. When employees are heard and involved, small problems get addressed while they are still manageable and before they build to a major situation that can do lasting damage both internally and externally.

A number of simple mechanisms can be put in place that let employees know they are heard and valued at all levels in the organization such as:

• Regular opportunities for all employees to hear from senior management about current and future plans and their role in everyone’s success.
• Continuous Improvement systems that empower employees to streamline and simplify work processes to improve customer service and cut waste.
• Graffiti Walls or Idea Spaces that let employees leave suggestions, either online or in a physical place, for all to see and then make sure there is follow-up, response and action by senior management on the input.

When employee voice is valued and heard, increases in employee engagement and performance are noticeable.

Fill the Integrity Gap

Does your written organization mission or values statement get reflected in the day-to-day operations and behavior in your organization? Is there a big “say-do” gap? The values written in your annual report or on the wall as you enter the building have to be reflected in the actual behavior of leaders and senior management. If there is a strong overlap in the two, there is a sense of integrity among employees and the public, if they are significantly different, that big gap breeds distrust. A high level of trust is vitally important to a high performing team and successful organization.

• Promises made must be promises kept, and if for some reason they can’t be then a prompt clear explanation and plan for future change must be given.

• Building integrity and trust is hard work and takes time. Consistent role-modeling and accountability at all levels of the organization must be enforced by senior management.

• An error in judgment or mistake can destroy trust and integrity quickly, unless leaders acknowledge and address it quickly and apologize sincerely.

• A culture that encourages information sharing, breaks down barriers and silos, shares credit, responds to input and feedback, and is consistent in messaging, will radiate integrity and trust at all levels of the organization.

• Face-to-face communication, hands-on involvement, and demonstrated, consistent, commitment to the written mission and values are what will result in loyal, engaged employees for the long-term.

This holiday season, when thinking about what employees might be wishing for in addition to the traditional holiday lunch or gift card, and consider these meaningful and lasting ideas for both your team members and your organization.

What a great gift would that be for everyone!

Mary Vail-Grube is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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