If we were to survey any HR manager on some of their biggest focus areas in the coming year, employee engagement would most likely top their list.
Over the years, we have seen data consistently reinforce the need for employers to pursue employee engagement as research shed light on the financial achievements of companies that succeeded at it. If asked about employee engagement, most of today’s business leaders will claim that it is a priority for them. However, the average level of employee engagement hasn’t really changed in recent years.
High levels of engagement renders employees unwavering in the face of shifting environments, despite all odds. They are willing to go the extra mile, exercise discretionary effort, and do what it takes to make the company excel. With today’s business environment evolving to fit the lightning-fast speed of demographic, technological, economic and political change, companies with disengaged employees will find it extremely hard to keep up with the competition.
So, what’s stopping progress? To begin with, the entire employee experience has a role to play where engagement is concerned, as opposed to each driver, as earlier assumed. This increases the array of factors at play, and can be daunting for organizations try to choose which initiatives they should allocate their resources toward.
Since leaders are also technically employees, their engagement varies depending on their level of seniority in the organization. This suggests that perhaps some organizations believe they needn’t try to engage their leaders at all. This farcical misconception creates fault lines in the structure of even a robust work culture, manifesting in disengagement among those who report to them.
Additionally, employee engagement no longer has its novelty of yesteryear, meaning every HR professional approaches it with a set of experiences and notions that they themselves have formed over time. These notions shape their beliefs about engagement to a great extent, in turn impacting their actions. Many have seen the impact engaged employees can have; however, others who have yet to meet with success may be cynical and unwilling to put their efforts behind a cause they do not fully buy in to. Some of today’s organizations simply don’t believe that engaging their employees is a business imperative. At this point, honest, open dialogue and focused action will be key to identifying which path companies can take regarding their human capital engagement.
According to recent Dale Carnegie research, supervisors who say they work on engaging their employees every day were over 3.5 times more likely to say their employees were always willing to do what it takes to get the job done, even if it meant going beyond their roles. Those who make engaging their employees a daily priority also enjoy much lower employee turnover. Even leaders who work frequently on employee engagement, but not daily, give up much of that advantage.
This suggests there is an important difference in mind-sets between leaders who see employee engagement as one priority among others, and those who see EE as the primary way through which they will achieve results. Supervisors who feel their organizations support them in engaging their employees and work to engage them as leaders are far more likely to make working on engagement a daily habit.
Saying “yes” to engagement means saying “no” to some other priority. Combining a culture where engagement is a key imperative, with strong support from the organization and leaders setting an example, significantly increases the chances that engagement will be made a daily objective.