Increasing Employee Engagement

Fact: You cannot have engaged customers without having engaged employees.

According to Gullup, a prominent authority on employee engagement statistics, 70% of employees in the US are not happy—and therefor disengaged. This impacts customer retention, turnover, and most importantly the company’s bottom line. In fact, their 2013 report include findings such as:

“Engaged workers are the lifeblood of their organizations. Work units in the top 25% of Gallup’s Q12 Client Database have significantly higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings, less turnover and absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents than those in the bottom 25%.”

“Organizations with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee in 2010-2011 experienced 147% higher earnings per share (EPS) compared with their competition in 2011-2012. In contrast, those with an average of 2.6 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee experienced 2% lower EPS compared with their competition during that same time period.”

“Gallup estimates that active disengagement costs the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion per year.”

The good news: The trend of decreased engagement has leveled off in the past 13 years, aside from a drastic dip from 2008-11, likely attributed to the recession.

The bad news: Well, here are some alarming statistics for you.

So, as a leader and/or manager, how do you increase employee engagement?

  • Streamline workflow: “That’s the way we’ve always done it,” is cancerous to progress. Analyze processes and identify and eliminate overly complicated or confusing procedures. This can streamline the process and allow you see bottlenecks more clearly.
  • Flexible hours: While not every workplace is conducive to allowing employees to work remotely, or according to their own rhythms of energy, but if you’re able to be flexible with office time, your employees will reward you for it. This goes with the warning that you must trust your employees in order to allow them to create their own scheduled and work on a deadline basis.
  • Seek, identify, and destroy the saboteurs: This can take some work, maybe even of the covert nature. It is important to find the abusive and/or lazy workers in your staff and get them out the door. Easier said than done, we realize. They kill engagement, morale and productivity by poisoning loyal employees with negativity.
  • Respect the work/life balance: There are times to put in long hours and then there are times to cut out early. Have a balance of these two to avoid grinding your employees to a pulp after too many 60-hr weeks. People who are worked hard are tired, fatigue leads to stress, stress leads to absenteeism, general resentment, and sometimes safety risks.
  • Grow your staff: A study conducted by APA concluded that 70% of employees feel valued at work when they have opportunities for growth and development. Investing in your team members personal development through training, assignment to new and interesting projects, participation on task forces, and exposure to new and interesting areas through cross-training proves to be a valuable venture both in engagement and creating experts in your field.
  • Just listen: Remove communication barriers, voice your openness to new ideas and complaints and just sit back and listen. While you can’t please everyone, at least everyone can be heard. How else can manager know what their staff wants/needs without an open dialog? You’ll be surprised what you learn and how easy keeping engagement up really can be when you’re hearing the complaints and compliments.

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