News & Events
The Challenge of Employee Engagement – Part 1
- November 24, 2015
- Posted by: dkadmin
- Category: Neely's Nuggets
One of the hidden costs for every business is the issue of employee engagement. This article will cover some of the real costs of employee disengagement and the subsequent benefits of employee engagement and retention. Some effective strategies will be offered to improve employee engagement in any organization. If employees truly are a company’s most important asset, care and support of these workers must be a priority.
There are three types of employees in most organizations today.
Totally Engaged employees work with passion, feel a part of the organization, are innovative and work hard to improve the success of the organization. “Causal Motivation” helps employees believe in what the organization stands for and helps workers to focus on the positive things that are going on.
Partially Engaged or Non-engaged people seem to be putting in time. There does do not appear to be a lot of passion or energy for the work that is being done. The appearance is that nothing extra is given. At best, an “Incentive Motivation” is present and employees become energized when there is a clear understanding that harder work will result in tangible increased personal gain. This is an untapped opportunity for any organization to improve both performance and profitability.
Actively Disengaged employees with a negative focus tend to recruit others . “Fear Motivation” results in employees feeling stuck in a job that they don’t like. Focus ends up on negative things that are going on in the workplace.
According to a recent Gallup Business Journal article, the percentage of truly engaged employees is low in most areas of the world today. It has been suggested that only about 30% of United States workers are fully engaged at work. Even if we accept a 50% engagement rate, the resulting organizational costs cannot be ignored. If employees are only 80% effective/engaged, what is the cost in terms of productivity losses?
The cost of employee turnover is extremely high. The higher the turnover, of course, the higher the cost. In the world of Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) there can be 100% employee turnover in a year and it can cost $1500 to bring a new hire up to speed. As another example, a large school bus transportation company has a driver turnover rate of 40% at a cost of $2500 per driver to replace those who leave.
According to the 2014 Cross-Industry Compensation Survey, the turnover rate in distribution is 12.5%. However, the rate is substantially higher for operating employees. The cost to every organization is significant. Employers should do the math to identify the potential costs of employees who are not engaged in terms of loss of productivity and employee turnover. It is amazing how this impacts profitability.
The reality is that engaged employees tend to stay with the organization and the payback is well worth the effort. There are simple strategies that need to be considered to increase engagement level in any organization. Front-line supervisors play a crucial role in this process and must be in tune and effective to get the best out of all employees.
Employee Engagement Survey
Once employees are asked what it will take to become more engaged, it will be possible to focus on issues that will improve the work environment. Having done so, managers and owners will be expected to follow up with the employee suggestions or all credibility will be lost.
For example, Cruickshank Construction is a fairly large construction company with more than 500 employees and 80 supervisors and project managers. The results of their annual employee engagement survey identified four Key Improvement Areas (KPA’s). The KPA’s were Recognition, Communication, Pay and Career Opportunities. Over the following six months, employee focus groups were held with a cross section of the organization including the CEO. A list of improvement ideas was created and the organization began to implement the practical suggestions. The progress of the Focus Group was shared with the employees using e-newsletters and the quarterly employee magazine.
The feedback from the focus group members has been extremely positive and the members have become truly engaged. This process is now a part of the organization’s culture. As part of the process, the term “Building an Appreciation Culture” has been coined.
Focus on Engagement at the Local and Organizational Levels
Real change occurs at the local workgroup level, however it happens only when organization leaders set the tone from the top. Companies will realize the most benefit from engagement initiatives when leaders weave employee engagement into performance expectations for managers. Both managers and employees must feel empowered to make a positive difference in their immediate environment. Leaders and managers should work with employees to identify barriers to engagement and opportunities to affect positive change. Employees will have the best ideas to maximize performance, business innovation, and to create better workplace experiences.
Focus on the Supervisors and Managers
Great managers care about their people’s success. A great manager seeks to understand each person’s strengths and provide employees with every opportunity to use those strengths in their role. Great managers empower their employees, recognize and value their contributions and actively seek their ideas and opinions. It takes talent to be a great manager, and selecting people who have this talent is important.
Companies should treat the manager role as unique, with distinct functional demands that require a specific talent set. Research has found that immediate managers have the most significant impact on employees’ engagement levels. Organizations should train their front line managers in communication and motivation skills. They should also coach managers to take an active role in building engagement plans with their employees. Companies should hold managers accountable, track their progress and ensure that they continuously focus on building an engaged work team.
Define and Clarify Engagement Goals
Leaders must make engagement goals meaningful to employees’ day-to-day experience. A company should ensure that managers discuss employee engagement at weekly meetings, in planning sessions and in one-on-one meetings with employees. An organization should work to make engagement a part of its daily interactions and activities so that they become a part of the workplace culture.