These are perilous times for most organizations of all sizes and in all sectors; but even more perilous for employees, who know that their employers may choose–out of necessity or precaution–to reduce employee ranks at any time. Thus probing the question of employee engagement may at first thought, seem a bit off the mark. One manager said "people should just be working hard for survival's sake. But in fact, considering how to engage employees could not be more timely. No doubt that fear can be a strong motivator, but is this the kind of optimal positioning that will elicit the most productive working relationship, the highest quality of customer service, or a truly engaged work force? The answer is not only no, emphatically no.
First, it has been established in academic and business research that an engaged workforce produces positive results in an array of positive outcomes from quality products and services, to customer satisfaction and retention, improved safety performance, and of course ultimately, profitability. Generally, levels of employee engagement can be determined through assessing employee perceptions around five key areas:
Every leader worthy of the title worries over how to create an engaged workforce. Every organization creates, in its strategy, structure and processes, a unique culture–and in the interplay of these elements, the drivers of engagement are formed–and these are indeed unique to each organization. Engagement drivers can be identified through careful employee research and professional analysis of the results.
While the drivers of engagement are unique to each organization, a pattern has emerged that supports the concept that there are quadrants one foundational elements of engagement that relate to the drivers of engagement, in a way that yeast relates to the ingredients of bread. These quadrants are: 1) Leadership, 2) Recognition and Rewards, 3) The Work Itself, and 4) Communication. A brief look at these quadrants, can serve as self-administered engagement audit:
Organizations should develop communication programming that includes a full range of media across the spectrum of face-to-face to electronic and web, to print applications. This full-spectrum is necessary to reach all employees. So in these times when organizations are forced to restructure work, people and processes, there is ample risk of alienating the workforce rather then actually engaging employees.
The threats of down sizing, work relocation and plant closings, are all too palpable. Reaching out to employees with candor and transparency can be an opportunity for creating substantial positive outcomes. When organizations are asking more from employees, these organizations should be taking steps to assess levels of engagement, identify the drivers of engagement, and undertaking steps to increase levels of engagement–engagement that will benefit ALL stakeholders, internal and external– for the near term and long term success of the enterprise.
Leadership insights in your inbox.