“High employee engagement is imperative, even amid a turbulent economy”. This was the indisputable fact that Gallup once again revealed in its 2012 study of 1.4 million employees worldwide.
Business units that scored in the top 25 percent of their organizations according to employee engagement showed:
- 37% lower absenteeism
- 22% higher profitability
- 21% higher productivity
- 10% higher customer metrics
- 25% lower turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
- 65% lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
- 28% less shrinkage
- 48% fewer safety incidents
- 41% fewer patient safety incidents
- 41% fewer quality incidents (defects)
But here’s the comedown. According to Towers Watson, almost two-thirds or 65 percent of the workers who participated in their 2012 Global Workforce Study did not show high engagement.
Employee engagement refers to the conditions under which workers make an emotionally-based choice to be loyal to a company. So what is at stake with employee engagement? Essentially everything, as low engagement costs the US economy alone $370 billion year after year.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to increasing employee engagement; what works for Google might not work for Gillian’s Bakery. In saying that, here are 10 ways to keep your workers engaged:
1. Honesty and transparency win. Always.
Public and private organizations can take a few tips from their voluntary counterparts. According to CIPD’s latest Employee Outlook survey, the voluntary sector showed an increase in employee engagement this quarter. Around 55 percent of voluntary workers reported feeling engaged at work, compared to only 37 percent and 33 percent of private and public workers, respectively. This is even more remarkable, considering the layoffs hounding voluntary staff nowadays. According to CIPD, voluntary workers love their “open and honest management teams” who perpetuate “positive communication practices” and “cultures of mutual trust and respect.”
In engagement as in other aspects of life, honesty always seems to be the best policy. Employees tend to feel disposable when orders are barked without explanation.
2. Compensate fairly.
It goes without saying that you get what you pay for. To get excellent work, you need to offer commensurate wages. Explore the possibility of cash bonuses and stock options for employees too. And if you can’t increase salary, give employees prospects for advancement if you want them to play the game to win.
3. Money is not everything. Get personal.
A wad of cash can only go so far in fortifying employee engagement and performance. Sometimes what employees need is not pecuniary: Knowing that you personally care for them might be enough. Workers who see their leaders as real people often exhibit high engagement.
4. Be a transformational leader.
A transformational leadership style appears to be the most conducive to employee engagement. According to researcher Bernard Bass, transformational leaders are supportive managers who offer individualized consideration to followers; supportive management is directly proportional to employee engagement.
5. Understand the value of one-on-one conversations.
One important trait of a transformational leader is the ability to attend to individual needs, i.e. the ability to lend a listening ear. Hear your employees’ ideas and feelings out. In return, give them constructive criticisms and due praises, not just once a year, but regularly.
6. It’s all in the environment.
Employees love commuting to a workplace that is aesthetically pleasing. Take a look at how the SAS Institute took this knowledge one step further. They built a branch in France in an opulent castle no less, enclosed by a cherry-lined garden and a forest with walking trails. They have even splurged on an office nursery, so that mothers in their employ never have to leave their young kids at home again. Result: low absenteeism and turnover.
7. Trust workers enough to let them telecommute.
Sometimes even castles are no substitute for the conveniences and comforts of working at home. Provide flexibility in working. Also, make sure to grant telecommuters access to documents, tools and resources they would otherwise have in the physical office.
8. Move meetings and coursework online.
According to Cisco manager Kim Austin, online events and trainings are much clearer, since the same, unadulterated information is disseminated to employees, whenever, wherever. Furthermore, 53 percent of organization leaders surveyed by the Economist Intelligence Unit support the notion that video communications enrich relationships with employees.
9. Consider wellness programs.
Wellness programs, or basically those that lead to a healthy and productive workforce, affect the bottom-line positively. To illustrate, Johnson & Johnson reported returns of $2.71 for each $1 dollar invested in these programs. Healthy employees do make highly engaged workers, after all.
10. Help the company be the employer that people respect.
No one likes leaders of ill repute and dubious ethics. When former Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher’s dalliance with an employee led to a media firestorm, airline workers became so self-conscious that they refused to wear their uniforms outside the workplace. People want to work for organizations that they can be proud of.
Photo credit: http://www.kaleidoscopeconsulting.com.au/wp-content/themes/kaledoscope/images/High%20Performance%20Management.jpg
This guest post is written by Lisa Baker from www.kaleidoscopeconsulting.com.au. Since 1994 Kaleidoscope has delivered solutions to individuals through business coaching and with leaders and managers in HR consulting projects.