How to Increase Engagement: Treat Your Employees like They Matter

People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses.

You’ve likely heard this saying before. Thinking back over the jobs you’ve held through the course of your life, what made you want to quit each job? Did your boss or manager play a role?

The following individual’s response is typical of many employees: “Almost every job I’ve quit had to do with reasons associated with those who were supposed to manage or lead. I can also say I’ve never felt like I’ve had a great boss. I’ve had mediocre bosses who did not make my life miserable, but I’ve never had a boss who motivated or inspired me to do great things. In short, I’ve never felt truly engaged as an employee.”

Happiness at work

Employees who feel engaged? Just 15% worldwide.

According to Gallup, a research-based, global performance-management consulting company, only 15% of employees worldwide feel engaged at work. Employees in the US are about twice as engaged, landing at 33%.

There are many different definitions of employee engagement, and they all revolve around a common theme: emotional commitment and attachment to one’s workplace and fellow employees. Engaged employees feel a profound connection and commitment to their company; they work with passion, they are loyal, and they are willing to go the extra mile.

Brent Gleeson says engaged employees “enthusiastically invest in their work and take on responsibilities outside of their job description. They are generally more likely to become emerging leaders and will stay with an organization much longer than non-engaged employees.”

disengaged employee67% of Employees Worldwide are Not Engaged and 18% are Actively Disengaged.

If 15% of employees worldwide are engaged, where is the remaining 85%? Almost 70% of employees are considered “not engaged” and 18% fall into the “actively disengaged” category. “Not engaged” employees are the hardest to identify because they are often relatively happy/satisfied in their role. They do the bare minimum and are not invested in their company’s mission, values, vision, or goals. Gleeson describes these team members as both a threat and a great opportunity. With the proper approach, employees who fall under the “not engaged” category could be transformed into engaged employees who thrive in an organization. With the wrong approach, they could become actively disengaged; transforming into negative and toxic employees, spreading toxicity throughout an organization.

Increase numbers of employee engagement

How can the numbers of engaged employees be improved?

Companies need to invest the time and energy into developing and implementing a program to provide managers with the knowledge and tools necessary to increase engagement within their teams. According to Gleeson, 70% of organizations fall significantly short of meeting their company goals when it comes to engagement. This is usually because the process takes longer than mangers, leadership, and organizations expect. Engagement is not something that will happen overnight, and change is hard. Engagement should improve with time and dedication from all levels of an organization.

workplace trust and communicationTrust and Communication.

I believe it is the responsibility of an organization and employer to create a culture and environment committed to employee engagement. If I had to offer one piece of advice to someone wanting to create a culture and environment of engagement, I would say this should be done by establishing trust and communication.

If employees don’t feel like they can sit down with their boss and openly talk about concerns, nothing will change. Leaders should communicate with their team frequently and create a safe and open environment where everyone is comfortable approaching their leaders with any concerns they may have. As I’ve discussed in previous articles, psychological safety is critical to the success of a team and the organization in which teams function.

empathy and listeningEmpathy + Listening.

Leaders should not assume they know what their employees want. In order to fully engage employees, leaders need to ask employees directly and then listen. Feedback from employees can be used by leaders to understand how to best meet their employees’ needs. Empathy helps leaders relate to those they serve – their employees. Sit down and talk with your employees. Listen to what they have to say. When your employees feel like their opinions and efforts matter to you and the organization, they are more likely to be invested in their jobs and the success of the company.

Engagement Quiz

The Engagement Quiz

In their article, Is your team engaged? Here’s a short, easy way to find out, Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick provide the Engagement Quiz. This eight-question quiz helps leaders assess their team’s engagement. Elton and Gostick suggest, “if you are a manager, ask your employees to give their honest feedback about their experience at work. (If they won’t, that should tell you something.) If you are an individual contributor, answer for yourself.”

☐ There are excellent opportunities to grow or learn new things around here.

☐ My leader regularly talks to us about our futures/career progression in positive ways.

☐ We are regularly recognized for our good work.

☐ My boss understands what drives me and gives me assignments I find motivating.

☐ We feel well-informed about organizational changes.

☐ We are free to speak up and give feedback without fear of reprisal.

☐ We feel our efforts make a difference every day.

☐ We understand the bigger mission and values of our organization.

Connecting the Dots

Connecting the Dots.

Employee engagement is low worldwide, and people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. The first step to increasing employee engagement is through empathy and open, honest, genuine/authentic communication. Employees should feel comfortable and safe approaching their leaders with concerns.

Ask your team some questions from the Engagement Quiz, and see what types of responses you receive. If you still aren’t sure where to begin, start by treating your colleagues well. Listen to them and give them room to grow. Treating your employees like human beings rather than production machines will begin to change their perceptions of you as a leader and of the organization as a whole.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post! If you’re looking for ways to increase your organization’s level of employee engagement, please review my services here and contact me here.

This was originally posted on LinkedIn on October 31st, 2017. See the full post here.