The Break Room

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Managing Employee Engagement

Mar 30, 2016, 08:48 AM by Kathleen Kontos

A hot topic of debate today, employee engagement has been a concern for years. A 2015 Gallup poll revealed that in the past year an average of 32% of employees were engaged at work, a rate that has shown little improvement from the years prior. More telling is the fact that of the 50.8% that were not engaged, 17% of them were actively disengaged.

Why is employee engagement important to businesses? Engaged employees affects profitability. Engaged employees are committed and more productive. They are more likely to stay with employers longer and are consequently a factor in retention rates. A low percentage in employee engagement matters when you consider these details.

Employee engagement is not to be mistaken with employee satisfaction or happiness. Although one may influence the other, these properties are not always concurrent. Engaged employees can be content, but not all contented employees lead to an improvement in performance, motivation or emotional commitment. Hence adding fresh perks or benefits to the workplace can give employees joy and extra convenience, but doesn't concern the issue of low engagement among employees.

The way to increase employee engagement is to go to the root cause, address the problem and give support so that employees feel connected and inspired. Applying pretty colors on top of the issue does not guarantee a conclusion—work on fixing the cause so it does not become a repeated problem. An ineffective boss won't inspire employees with bonus giveaways.

Fixing employee engagement needs to start at the executive level. One of the leading causes directly related to employee engagement is the style of management. The bigger the gap between executives, managers and their team members the lower the trust, compatibility in shared vision and personal connection which leads to a lack of confidence in leadership and motivation. To bring up the percentage of employee engagement in any business, the collaboration between executives and employees is necessary.

Communication is key and leaders must take the time to listen. Allow employees to give continuous feedback, not just once annually. Focus on aligning the missions of managers and their employees with the organization's mission. Give recognition and appreciation where it is due, discuss quarterly goals, leave room for advancement and offer development opportunities. Employees will be more productive and perhaps even happier instead of dropping in for work just to collect a paycheck.

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