Employee Engagement: Making Your Staff Rock Stars is Critical to Client Care & Bottom Line!

No doubt it’s been a few tough years for many. Organizations are asking staffs to do more with less. It is also a tall order to steadfastly recognize, measure and uphold employee engagement. Hard working professionals are especially vulnerable to burnout and disengagement, making it difficult to improve client satisfaction and care quality. In fact daily stress, compassion fatigue, overachiever personality types, long hours, and lots of changes are hallmarks of industry standards today.

Based on HR Solutions’ International Normative Database, only 27 percent of employees are ‘Actively Engaged.’ The remaining 73 percent is divided between ‘Ambivalent’ employees (60 percent) and ‘Actively Disengaged’ employees (13 percent).

Benefits of engagement far outweigh the downsides when you take into account tangible results reported. If you are not yet a devotee to the Employee Engagement movement, I hope you will consider the wonderful benefits ramping up your EE factors can do for your organization and clients.

Let’s jump in and answer a few of the most popular EE questions:

What exactly is Employee Engagement?

Although there is not one agreed-upon definition, a few Employee Engagement Network authors described it on their terms:

Encourage open, honest conversations in which staff feel heard and also feel they are an important part of the organization. Susan J. Meyerott, M.S.

When the heart, mind, spirit and desire to do is synergized and in harmony with the vision and mission. Rudolf Peter Lanc

Employers need to get creative to create and promote a culture where employees feel valued, believe they are making a difference and are having fun. Jason M. Beauford

Build a sense of achievement by linking head (strategy and outcomes) to heart (authentic communication). Jo Manchester

S. Max Brown’s take simply summed it up by saying, “Engagement is caring about how you show up.” Consider how you define engagement for your organization. Is it a blend of some of the above?

Are we already doing it?
As they say…if you have to ask…you may not be doing an effective dose of it.

If so, are we doing it right?  Are we doing it enough?

One thing is clear: assessing your employees is not the same as engaging them.  A common malady happens when we put an engagement survey out there, let our employees fill them out and then not do anything differently…or worse, engage them all with a cookie
cutter mold.

Years ago—before EE was a buzz word–I used to suspect my management did not read any of our Suggestion Box ideas.  Even worse, I secretly suspected the slot we fed our suggestions into led right into a paper shredder.  Not only was I disengaged, I didn’t think anyone really cared what we thought about improving the organization.  Even though I was their top salesperson, I left shortly thereafter. The moral of the story: we want to be heard and valued for our ideas—that’s what drives us.

What if we’re not doing it at all?

In a Human Resource Executive magazine survey, two huge concerns for HR professionals were Employee Engagement and Retention.  In fact, legendary GE leader Jack Welch said “If you’re running a business, though, whether it’s a corner store or a multi-product multinational, we would say there are three key indicators that really work: employee engagement, (end user) satisfaction, and cash flow.”

He goes on to say, “Employee engagement first.  It goes without saying that no organization, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.  That’s why you need to take the measure of employee engagement at least once a year through anonymous surveys in which people feel completely…safe to speak their minds.”

If you have not yet done so, now would be a good time to embrace and enhance the EE wave.

How on earth do you measure EE? I mean how do we see tangible signs of it doing any good?

The votes are in:  Employee engagement is scientifically linked to improved business performance in the following areas:

Increased End User Satisfaction, Increased Employee Retention, Increased Operating Margin Increased Profitability, Reduction in Safety incidents, Reduction in Absenteeism

These areas can be your barometers to gauge your EE effectiveness.
When I think of EE, “Kaisen” comes to mind; it is the Japanese word for “continuous improvement.”  I also am reminded of the bonsai tree:  you may water and prune it for many years before you see what appear to be sudden blossoming branches.  In truth, constant and small changes lead big impacts; such can be true with on-going employee engagement programs.

What exactly can we do to get on the EE Train?

Communicate – Clarify and let them know what’s going on, so they can innovate and create solutions that make sense.  Trust them to have all the information they need to make informed decisions and solutions.  Do annual surveys and candid focus groups.

Involve – Clarify & update to help employees understand what’s going on.  Knowledge is power only when we use it.

Benefit – Help them connect the dots by asking first before telling.  Let them tell you what the benefit is to them for engaging while serving up the organization’s vision/mission.

Enable Career – Developing Opportunities  -prepare them for cross training and a thorough understanding of all the working parts of “how we make money here.”

Individualize – Connection makes room for correction.  You must treat each employee as an individual and learn what makes him/her tick and what ticks him/her off.   This customized appreciation will prove a huge ROI on your time and energy invested.

Kelli V’s COOL Bonus Tool!
Simplify Individualized Engagement by finding out what drives them. As my Greek grandfather used to say, “You gotta know what makes them tick and what ticks them off!” Here’s my handy Team Engagement Blueprint Kelli V’s Team Engagement Blueprint to use as your blueprint for Engagement Excellence.

Brian Tracy, Personal Development Expert, says this individualized motivation is all about the A’s: appreciation, approval, admiration, and attention.  As he suggests, “Imagine that every person in your organization is wearing a sign around his or her neck all day long that says ‘Make me feel important.’”

“Listen to your employees and understand what gets them excited about coming to work.“ Kathy Fitzpatrick

Observe the pointy-haired boss in Dilbert, and don’t be him.  Rev. James Rosselli

What are some TOP FUTURE EE Trends to Watch for?

1.)  Since the recession helped increase disengagement levels, there’s work to be done to recapture engagement ground.  Organizations will use the most Actively Engaged employees to mentor, motivate and re-energize the disengaged.

2.)  The good news is that the economy is on the upswing. Corporations will capitalize on this with Employee Engagement Surveys, department meetings and focus groups.

3.)  HR professionals will invest more money and time developing strategic retention plans and learning what key retention elements are within their respective organizations.

4.)  Social media will be used more and more to engage and recruit employees.

One final quote sums it all up nicely by Deb Holton, EE Network Author, “Engagement empowers every employee to maximize his or her connectedness, contribution, collaboration, creativity, and celebration of success.”

It’s up to you now to enlist an Engagement Culture of Staff Rock Stars with your actions, not platitudes. This strategy can help your organization truly have them after “Hello.”

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