A recent survey by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) reported 94% of leaders feel employee engagement is an important or very important workforce challenge. An engaged workforce increases operational income by over 19%, while a disengaged workforce can drain over 34% of an organizations’ operational income. Additional risks of low engagement can be seen in increased turnover, low customer satisfaction ratings and even increased employment litigation.
While organizations undoubtedly want to avoid having disengaged workers and reap the rewards of a more engaged workforce, they are too frequently falling short of this goal primarily due to lack of proper planning.
Maximizing employee engagement is not something that happens overnight. To the contrary, it takes very focused and targeted planning. This planning takes into account multiple drivers.
Engagement drivers can be compartmentalized into three specific areas, which include:
This is not a lineal process, but rather an ongoing or circular process. Organizations should be evaluating, re-evaluating and making adjustments continuously as their business changes and even as new generations enter the marketplace.
This process should potentially include the following two ideas:
A retailer with 37,000 employees across 300 stores found that the 25% of stores with the highest employee engagement scores ended the year almost 14% over their profit budget, while the lowest 25% collectively missed their profit goals by 30%. A primary driver behind the successful stores was found to be both the employees’ sense of connection to their manager’s strong leadership and the employees’ sense of connection to the type of work they were doing.
Organizations may build a sense of connection to the type of work employees are doing by recruiting and hiring based on an employee’s strengths. For example, if you are looking at someone to do business development work, don’t just focus on finding a candidate with product knowledge which can be learned. Find someone who is energized by making and building connections. It is a skill some people derive energy from and lose themselves in when they are doing it – and often cannot be learned. That is the true definition of a strength.
Despite these findings, employees, unfortunately, do not always feel they are in positions that let them play to their strengths. In another survey, only 20% of employees felt their strengths were in play every day. Playing to one’s strengths is another way of saying an employee feels they ‘fit’ the job or career they are in.
In fact, job fit is one of the leading factors that determines whether or not employees will be motivated, committed and feel connected to their work — which translates into successful long-term employees and overall organizational profit.
This same basic premise holds true with work teams as well. Teams that play to their strengths consistently outperform those that do not. Specifically, an international expert on strength-based leadership, Marcus Buckingham, found in a recent survey that teams whose members “strongly agree” they have the chance to play to their strengths every day are:
The positive connection between effective communication and employee engagement is well documented. Logic tells us that if we are communicating successfully, we are engaging employees. Furthermore, if your communications are engaging employees — in person, in print and other media — you are on your way toward improving employee retention, productivity and the other advantages that come with employee engagement. But how do you communicate in a way that engages employees?
Just as an employee’s competencies or strengths should fit his or her job, an employee’s learning style should fit the types of communication he or she receives. How you engage a 55-year-old, for example, is usually different from how you engage a 25-year-old. When you educate employees about employee benefits or workplace safety, one person might respond well to an online presentation while the other prefers in-person or other traditional communications.
The key is to offer employees a choice of several different communication types so you are engaging people of different job types, generations, backgrounds and learning styles. For example, if you want to engage employees who work in a warehouse and rarely touch a computer, you will need to reach them in person or by mail.
The ripple effect of clear and effective communication goes even further. The impact of a strong benefits program improves an employee’s commitment and loyalty to an organization, and studies show that even the strongest benefits program will fail to engage employees unless you communicate it effectively. A survey by MetLife showed that “poor” benefit packages communicated effectively did more to motivate and retain employees than “rich” ones communicated poorly.
The point is that you can’t even engage your employees with a great benefits package unless you have not only planned for, but also put in place, an effective communication strategy for emphasizing those benefits. Strong communication is an essential ingredient for any employee-engagement initiative.
For more information, contact us.
Employee retention continues to be a top concern for employers, even more so than last year, according to a PayScale survey of more than 4,000 executives and human resources professionals.
In 2014, a staggering 59% of employers were more concerned about retaining talent than anything else. Five years ago, only half of those employers thought retention was their number one concern.
More than 90% of employers in the U.S. rely on criminal background and credit checks to screen employees, according to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM). In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance on the use of criminal background checks and more recently, in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), published two “best practices” guidelines. One set of guidelines is for employers and the other is for job applicants and employees.
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