Successful companies realize that employees who are engaged with the organization are some of the key drivers of growth. Defined by Dale Carnegie as “the emotional and functional commitment an employee has to his or her organization,” employee engagement has been identified as an urgent priority in the corporate environment. Why is it so important? Studies indicate that companies with engaged employees outperform others by up to 200 percent, yet a mere 30 percent of American workers qualify as fully engaged. According to Gallup, engaged employees tend to be more productive, and critical business measures like profitability and customer satisfaction are higher at companies with more engaged employees.
The difference between engaged and disengaged employees is not always obvious. Those who are disengaged may adequately perform their job duties without truly caring about the success of the organization. They may not feel valuable or understand how they fit into the company. At best, disengaged employees do little to move the organization forward. At worst, they actively undermine what their engaged counterparts do to increase productivity. Engaged employees, on the other hand, passionately strive to spur growth for the organization through innovation and problem-solving.
How can a business reap the benefits of a more engaged workforce? Here are some strategies:
- Set attainable goals for the organization and communicate them clearly to the entire workforce. Employees are more engaged when they have a well-defined sense of purpose and understand how they contribute to the organization’s success.
- Refrain from micro-managing. Employees want to be challenged, and they want the freedom to tackle challenges as they see fit so that they may feel accountable for their accomplishments. When employees have some degree of autonomy to perform work in their own ways, they feel trusted and valuable, and thus, more engaged with the organization.
- Coach managers on how to engage employees. If boosting engagement in the workforce is a battle, lower-level managers are on the front lines. Often, employees’ overall feelings about the organization stem from their relationships with their immediate managers. Therefore, it is crucial that managers at all levels know how to recognize disengaged behavior and motivate workers who exhibit it. Managers may strengthen relationships with their employees–thus making them feel more connected to the company–by understanding their unique motivators or demonstrating interest in their personal lives. Managers should also be sure to praise employees and express gratitude when their work exceeds expectations, and collaborate with them to develop strategies for improvement when it falls short.
- Connect with the community. Employees who believe that their organizations have made positive contributions to the community are more likely to be engaged.
- Open channels of communication. When employees are encouraged to express their ideas freely and are involved in strategizing and decision-making, they feel more connected to the organization’s goals and see themselves as important drivers of those goals. Employees should also be provided with opportunities to critique the organization, such as through anonymous surveys.
- Provide training and mentoring, particularly for high-performers. When employees are given opportunities to develop skills and advance in the organization, they are more likely to feel valued and remain committed to the employer.