Organizations care about employee engagement because the facts would suggest that it directly impacts their bottom line. Don’t believe us? Well recent and consistent research performed by Gallup shows that engaged employees “doubled the company’s odds of success” compared to disengaged employees. However, they also report only 13 percent of employees worldwide are actually engaged at work – a rather damning statistic and we do actually meet people fairly frequently who cannot actually remember the last time they looked forward to coming into work……
The best leaders understand the critical importance of engagement and the competitive advantage it creates. Simply put, employee engagement drives results. Engaged employees are happier and more productive and ultimately create more resilient organizations. Leadership is key in delivering employee engagement. Great leaders inspire and motivate those around them to do their best and to realize their potential.
Just as it’s hard to overstate the benefits of an engaged workforce, it’s hard to overstate the benefits of having senior management involved in building that engaged workforce. Research shows more than 80% of top companies have a strategy for improving leadership engagement compared to only 65% of other companies.
So high-performing companies see the link between leadership and engagement and it makes a difference. But what exactly do leaders with engaged employees do differently? These leaders understand the importance of managing risk, products, policies and operations. However, they also devote as much or more energy on creating the conditions for engagement. While it is ultimately an employee’s decision whether or not to be engaged, these leaders create the working and cultural conditions in which employees are recognized and valued and feel challenged by their work.
When times are difficult, many leaders tend to focus on the numbers and become controlling, which ultimately results in reduced engagement. Successful leaders recognize that they need to create the conditions under which employees choose to be engaged, and that doing so also results in customer engagement. This requires the values, emotional characteristics and clarity of purpose required to foster engagement.
Successful leaders also realize that to create customer engagement, they have to first create the conditions for employee engagement. Only then can leaders direct their employees’ energies toward creating the conditions for customer engagement. The bottom line is, to keep engaged customers, an organization must first have engaged employees. Engaged customers appear when engaged employees become an unexpected addition to the customer experience.
Returning to the research, it suggests that the best leaders are those that build a work environment where the employees answer positively to these 12 Questions:
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This last year, have I had the opportunity at work to learn and grow?
The study showed that those companies that reflected positive responses to the 12 questions profited more, were more productive as business units, retained more employees per year, and satisfied more customers.
Without satisfying an employee’s basic needs first, a leader can never expect the employee to give stellar performance. The basic needs are knowing what is expected of the employee at work, giving him/her the equipment and support to do his/her work right, and answering his/her basic questions of self-worth and self-esteem by giving praise for good work and caring about his/her development as a person.
Employee engagement is critical to an organization’s success and leaders play a defining role in shaping the level of engagement employees have. Companies with engaged employees see culture as a cause rather than an effect, and leaders are expected to take responsibility for creating a culture that makes it easy for employees to engage. It seems to be working for others so give it a go and see if it will work for you…..