Thursday, January 27, 2011
The Two Basic Leadership Behaviors that Increase Employee Engagement
Sorry about the language!
If you’ve somehow missed or been able to ignore the sweeping inundation of the engagement fad, the concept of “employee engagement” came onto the human resources scene in the early 90’s as an evolution of employee satisfaction that includes full involvement in and commitment to the work and the organization. It has now become an accepted term by management from all disciplines, since numerous studies have linked the level of engaged employees with earnings per share, customer satisfaction, turnover, and productivity. The attached graph shows some results from a 2007 study by Towers Perrin. (Now Towers Watson.)
It only seems to make practical sense to me that if you can hire and retain people who love their job, your bottom line will reflect that. They are naturally going to devote more thought, ideas, creativity, time, and effort to their work than if they didn’t enjoy their work.
But employee engagement has, well, engaged many management experts and yet another study has been released, this time by BlessingWhite, a global consulting firm. After compiling the information of nearly 11,000 individuals, here are some of their key findings:
· 31% of respondents are engaged. This corresponds to Gallup’s research that 29% of employees are engaged. Engagement levels vary by country. For example, 37% of respondents in India are engaged (the highest) and just 17% are engaged in China (the lowest). In North America, 33% are engaged, in Europe, 30%. Southeast Asia is at 26% and Australia/NZ is at 36%.
One of the descriptions I like best in this study says: Engaged employees plan to stay for what they give; the Disengaged stay for what they get.
Besides hiring the right people, what can you do to strengthen employee engagement? That is, how can you help your employees love their job more? It seems like it should all be on their shoulders, and it’s true, those who know what their strengths are, what they want to do, and what their core values are, will look for work that fits them and allows them to be successful. Self-knowledge is a pre-requisite for employee engagement, and that may be the reason why younger workers are not as engaged as older ones. At any level, individuals must take action on this knowledge and ask for the responsibilities and involvement that will make their work lives more satisfying.
That said, there are many things management can do to boost engagement levels. Here are two key leadership behaviors that will make a difference when done consistently:
1. Communicate often. Convey the reasons behind decisions, the challenges and opportunities you are facing, the organizational values, plans, and strategies you are implementing, and how appreciative you are of their hard work. Be crystal clear when communicating expectations and get their feedback on how things are going. Ask questions to involve them in creating plans, solving problems, and to find out about their ideas. Without breaking any confidentialities, be transparent.