Discussions are many and leaders in organizations also understand the importance of employee engagement. This is why new tools and engagement surveys have emerged lately, but the bad news is that the impact has barely been satisfactory.
Statistics still suggest that still less than one-third of US employees are engaged in their jobs and workplaces and the numbers haven’t changed since 15 years. The worldwide results are even lower with only 13% of employees being engaged. Bersin by Deloitte also puts employee engagement as a top issue on the minds of business leaders.
These statistics are appalling as the question that still remains is where have all the efforts gone wasted?
Organizations worldwide have started focusing on engagement and invested in resources and tools to carry out activities that have seen an increase in productivity levels of employees. Then what explains this huge gap? Gallup explains this divide by explaining two polar opposite spectrums within the engagement industry. On one spectrum there are organizations that have employed scientifically and experientially validated approaches that lead to changes in individual and business performance, with a core emphasis on culture and people management. On the other end of this spectrum are organizations which have used employee engagement surveys and tools which are largely invalid and unfocused. The results of such surveys end up measuring a multitude of workplace dimensions which do not align engagement initiatives to business objectives.
A lot of technological solutions have come up recently that claim to help “measure” engagement levels as well as help foster it within organizations. Such technology has also made it easy to create surveys and call them engagement surveys, even though they do not live up to either creating positive engagement levels, or measuring them. Also, the more important thing is to first improve existing engagement levels, and measurement will follow that.
Engagement is not a program or survey that can be implemented once in a while and used to bring about change in culture overnight. Just like the world of performance management is changing from being in once in a year event to a continuous process, the same needs to happen for employee engagement.
To come back to the root of the issue, engagement initiatives need to be well thought of. Low levels of engagement can be reflected in low productivity among employees, absenteeism and high turnover rates which costs businesses heavily. The first step is to analyze what is currently going wrong within the organization and giving an upper hand to employees by making them autonomous and processes transparent.
If employees feel wanted, important and heard, they will be more engaged and passionate about their jobs. After all, nobody wants to work in a culture where one feels insignificant or not worthy of any value. The intention behind most of these approaches might be well intended but the question that needs to be asked is what can be done to improve existing levels of workplace satisfaction.
Here are some of the key things that matter when it comes to ensuring employee engagement and how they need to change –
A major step to achieving this understanding is the leadership that exists in organizations. It is no hidden fact that the chances of an employee quitting a job will increase if he/she is subjected to a horrible manager. The opposite of this is also true. An inspiring manager can create more engaged teams.
As per a research by leadership development experts Dr. Brad Shuck and Maryanne Honeycutt-Elliott, higher levels of engagement come from employees who work for a compassionate leader. Such a leader is one who is authentic, present, has a high sense of dignity, integrity and is empathetic to others. With the whole world going gaga on solutions that are “real-time,” emphasis needs to be on providing regular coaching to subordinates by managers, so that employees know where they stand. Along with appropriate coaching, goal setting should also deserve priority. Goals should be realistic and set for shorter duration so that there is no confusion or lack of motivation.
Continuous feedback and mentoring
54% of millennials have reported having frequently felt that their manager is unprepared to give feedback during performance reviews. The role of managers is critical here as their interaction with employees is key to making continuous performance reviews a success. The annual performance reviews do not work any more as continuous feedback is key to employees now, especially the millenial generation.
Employees today want to know how they are performing and what is needed for improvement. Hence, performance reviews need to move from being a once in a year event to regular review meetings, pulse surveys and the like. Managers also need to be held accountable for their contribution in bringing about behavioral changes in millennial employees.
A traditional system like annual reviews and ranks will definitely not work for millennials. They want to know how they are performing and what is needed for improvement. Hence, performance reviews need to move from being a once in a year event to 360-degree reviews, pulse surveys and the like. Managers also need to be held accountable for their contribution in bringing about behavioral changes in millennial employees. They need to be given the opportunities to be able to contribute to the professional development of their subordinates and give it a personal angle.
Business leaders and strategy heads have used data for a long time to make major business decisions. With employee engagement now surfacing as an issue that directly affects businesses, the power of analytics can also be used to make changes in current practices and actually measure changes in productivity, turnover and behavior that drive business results.
Josh Bersin has also rightly describes this shift by saying that the geeks have entered HR as well. Talent analytics is actually getting replaced by people analytics and investments are being made on the idea of applying data to people decisions. This is going to be a huge opportunity for HR in the future and can help organizations measure engagement levels with empirical and statistical evidence.
Advancement in technology is a boon, but needs to be well thought out. Innovation does not mean it can be applied blindly. Organization need to bear the impact of such ideas on the overall business as well.