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The term “employee engagement” is thrown around a lot lately, so much so that it sometimes detracts from its true meaning. Engagement is far more than installing ping pong tables or giving everyone an extra week of annual leave – it’s about motivating your people to do their best work – and keeping them motivated.
Motivated employees are 31% more productive and sell 37% more compared to less motivated peers.
– University of California
After almost three decades of leadership, the collective experience in the team here at intelliHR has uncovered three pillars of genuine employee engagement that we aim to help all organisations foster.
Engagement starts with alignment. Where does each employee fit in your organisation? Your people need a place to fit in and feel like they are part of the bigger picture, and understand how they personally contribute to their organisations future direction. They want to know that their everyday activity is making progress towards the company’s mission. Beyond knowing they have a meaningful place within the organisation, this alignment should not strongly conflict with their own personal goals, attitudes, values and beliefs.
Once your people have a place in your organisation they also need to know that they can make a meaningful contribution to the wider company goals. Consider if employees are able to see the impact their work is having on the bigger picture. Knowing that they are making a difference instils a sense of achievement that is so essential to staying engaged.
Finally, the relationships your people form at work are the remaining piece of the puzzle. Ultimately, people must be able to work with their team harmoniously and enjoy coming to work each day.
Consider this research:
Motivated employees are 31% more productive, sell 37% more and are three times more creative compared to those who lack motivation in their role.
– University of California
This is just one piece of data proving that engagement really does have a direct impact on the bottom line. Not only does it have an impact – but more than 30% additional productivity and sales is quite significant. What business wouldn’t want that?
Disengaged employees have 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and make 60% more errors.
So not only do engaged employees perform better, but we also see the reverse effects when people are disengaged at work. The increased likelihood of accidents and errors that come with disengagement are exposing businesses to serious risk and financial loss. This is coupled with lost productivity due to absenteeism, further eroding profitability.
Organisations with low engagement scores have 18% lower productivity, 16% lower profitability and 65% lower share price over time.
Further supporting the above findings, companies with poor engagement not only have lower profitability and productivity, but these snowballing problems have also been shown to have a compounding effect on share price over time.
Organisations with highly engaged employees receive twice as many job applications.
Anyone who has been involved in the hiring process will know that the best talent can be hard to find, and even harder to retain, particularly in specialist roles. This figure shows that switched on professionals are seeking out roles in organisations with a good reputation for being a great place to work. Building a positive work environment with happy and engaged staff will help you expand and improve the quality of your talent pool.
70% of an employee’s motivation is influenced by their manager.
Turns out the age old adage, “people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses” is backed by science. Leaders charged with the responsibility to oversee direct reports have a significant influence on how their team members perform. Part of this can be attributed to how managers impact on an employee’s attachment (or lack thereof) to the organisation. This is explored in Anthony Sork’s concept of ‘Attachment Theory’.
Within 120 Days, new hires will have fully decided if they are going to stay in an organisation long-term, based on the relationships they have formed.
As we mentioned above, strong relationships at work are absolutely essential to not only retaining people but helping them perform faster. It takes significant time (up to 2 years) and money (up to $100,000 or more) to get an employee performing at their peak. By fostering an engaged workforce, and ensuring managers have a healthy relationship with their direct reports, we can speed up the path to peak performance, and keep people performing over time.
This is all determined by what happens within an employee’s first 120 days which is why an effective onboarding process is so crucial to success.
People consistently perform more poorly and disengage when higher incentives are at stake.
– Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
Science has proven time and time again that significant monetary incentives or time pressures often result in decreased performance when it comes to tasks that require creativity or strategic thinking. As manual work becomes increasingly redundant in our workplaces, we need to use methods of motivation that are conducive to creative and strategic thinking.
This study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston looked at how performance was impacted by the size of an incentive. After testing across a series of different tasks, it was found that performance was consistently lower, the higher the incentive. Essentially, the higher the stakes, the harder it became for participants to perform. This is not to say financial incentives are never effective to motivate employees – each individual has different motivations. What it does mean, however, is we must go beyond the traditional “carrot and stick” approach, as it doesn’t work for everyone, and may even inhibit performance. When managers take the time to invest in building relationships and getting to know their direct reports, they can better understand what motivates each individual and support their success accordingly.
Besides a misconception that engagement does not impact the bottom line (which we now know is not the case), another factor which often discourages businesses from prioritising engagement is that it can be difficult to measure.
There are a plethora of ways to improve engagement at work – but before implementing all these tactics ad hoc – it’s vital to have a system in place to actually a) measure engagement, and b) determine what areas of improvement should be focused on.
If your staff are disengaged at work, they don’t necessarily want free coffee or sleeping pods, they might just want a chance to have their ideas heard, or a health and safety hazard to be fixed. Sometimes it is these one percent fixes that can have a huge impact on engagement, but first we must determine what they are.
The following tools can help you identify focus areas to improve employee engagement across your organisation, and then measure their improvement as you make changes.
Long, infrequent employee engagement surveys have low completion rates and offer poor quality data as they are simply too much of a mammoth task for employees to complete. They also don’t offer insights that are timely. By sending a quick form to staff each month to see how they are going, you can give your people the opportunity to give feedback about their experience, then use this to inform a meaningful one on one conversation.
Monitor events that are leading to engagement or disengagement among your people. Sentiment analysis analyses the emotional tone behind entries left in diary notes, goal comments, forms and more to uncover potential issues or areas of positive progress, helping you easily identify hidden qualitative trends.
See what is making your staff happy or unhappy, identify trends and uncover root causes to fix them. Track an overall happiness rating out of 10 across individuals, teams, business units or the whole organisation over time.
We hope this blog has inspired you to start paying closer attention to your employee engagement. How will you improve engagement in your organisation?