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Engaged? Who Me?
Building Employee Engagement One Day at a Time
By Christine Corelli
Employee engagement has all the earmarks of a marriage—a business one anyway. It
exists when an employee feels that he or she has a job with an employer they support,
believe in, and to which they can make a personal contribution.
of the size of your company or the type of business you're in, building employee
engagement is critical to your organization's success. A study by the Gallup Organization
revealed that companies exhibiting the highest levels of employee engagement are
more likely to have above-average productivity (50%), retention (44%), and profitability
(33%). Research has also proven that "engaged employees" are more likely to stay
with their company, be advocates of its products and services, and contributors
to their bottom-line.
As a result of rampant
corporate re-structuring, i.e. mergers, acquisitions, consolidation, benefits
cuts, hiring freezes, fierce competition and job changes, many businesses are
seeing declining levels of employee engagement. In fact, a recent Aon Consulting
study of almost 1,800 workers revealed that employee engagement is declining in
every industry, age group, income group and job classification.
another major Gallup survey, they also reported evidence of declining employee
engagement, finding that only 26% of employees consider themselves "actively engaged"
in their work. As a consequence, Gallup made the following critical recommendations:
- Select individuals based on talent, as opposed to trying to
hire a "position".
- Define outcomes, as opposed to methods
or steps, for your staff.
- Focus on employee strengths,
as opposed to trying to overcome weaknesses.
- Place the
right people in the right job, as opposed to molding a person to fit a job.
to Enhance Employee Engagement...
a culture of "engaged" people is no easy task, but it is the responsibility of
management to make it happen. It involves a great deal more than Gallup's recommendations.
But is the responsibility of management to make it happen. It extends far beyond
job satisfaction and directly relates to employee attitudes that contribute
to their performance in the workplace. It requires their individual commitment,
loyalty, productivity, creativity and ideas. To improve your level of employee
engagement, corporations and businesses of all sizes should strive to integrate these simple practices into their culture,
- Keep the
lines of communication open. Employees who have access to information,
and company knowledge are more apt to feel they are an integral part of the organization.
Keep in mind, studies have proven that most people agree important company information
should come from upper level management, and not their immediate boss. However,
they want to be able to discuss their feelings, opinions, and sensitive issues
with their immediate boss.
- If you are in retail
business, keep your sales associates informed of how well they are performing
and how much they have contributed to overall sales on a month to month basis.
- Re-examine your core business values and involve
employees in establishing company values. Make sure you, your management team,
and your people live and breathe them every day. In the eyes of your employees,
the extent to which you practice your values can be closely linked with their
level of employee engagement. They will infer what you value from your behavior.
Actively demonstrate your own values, (especially professionalism, respect, dignity,
integrity and "duty") on a continual basis.
everyone for their extra effort and to show initiative beyond their job description.
If rewards are in the picture, you will increase your chances of accomplishing
higher levels of employee engagement and involvement.
has been said, "An organization is only as good as it's people." Create a Total
Sales/Service Excellence Culture® where employees recognize that they, too,
are "in sales." Make sure they know that they play a strong role in developing
your reputation and building relationships, establishing customer loyalty. Make
them accountable for their performance, not only to management and customers,
but also to each other. You won't survive in today's world, unless you have their
commitment to the success of your business.
something about "dead-weight." Underperformers can hurt productivity and morale.
Worse, they can cause high-performers to become disengaged—fast! This holds
true for people who cannot keep up with the demands of today's fast-paced work
environment. Work with your people to break down barriers that prevent them from
adapting to change.
- Adopt human resource and management
practices which create a culture of excellence that both involves and motivates
workers. If you own or manage a retail business, develop a true team culture where
people function like a professional sports team.
issues that arise dealing with performance management, working relationships and
empowerment. Make sure they know empowerment not only means that they are empowered
to make decisions, but it also means taking care of their own professional development
and career advancement.
- Hard as it may be, make
an effort to take twenty minutes a day to talk to people. Don't stop with "How
are you doing?" Ask them about their families, hobbies, interests, and outside
activities. Then, "Is there anything I can do to help you? Do you have any questions
I can answer?" During these brief visits, let them know their work matters. Herb
Kelleher, chairman of Southwest Airlines, recognizes this essential element of
employee engagement: "We try to show people that what they do matters. That's
why we share the letters we receive from passengers with all our employees." A
smart practice—that's how Southwest help their people internalize what they
must do to win new customers and obtain customer loyalty.
encourage your people to share ideas, and even step forward to challenge the Status
Quo. Great leaders go beyond this, they demand it. They know that engaging
peoples' brains in finding new, better, more efficient and more profitable
ways of doing things builds employee engagement. Respond to employee ideas and
- Examine whether your companies
internal structures and processes allow your employees to maximize their contributions
to the success of your company. If they don't, change them. Make sure they feel
comfortable enough to challenge the "Status Quo." Keep in mind, within them, lie
ideas and solutions to your problems. But if you don't ask, they won't speak up.
and reward people (both formally and informally) for their individual contributions
in the workplace. It is a surefire way to make people feel appreciated and help
them feel engaged. Create innovation teams and reward and celebrate innovative
ideas that help the company's productivity and profitability.
them with the necessary materials, equipment and training to do their job well.
Many employees will admit that they have been placed in job positions but have
not been properly trained. Consider establishing a "mentor" program. Seek High
Performers who are willing to spend a few hours per month help others move forward.
Let mentor and mentee set their own ground rules on how they will work together.
- Organizations including Exxon Chemical, AT&T,
SBC, Schweppes, GE, and General Tire, have established that front-line supervisors
are the opinion leaders in your organization. Because front-line supervisors greatly
influence the attitudes and behaviors of others, they are critical to employee
engagement. Establish "guiding principles" for managerial excellence and make
sure all managers and supervisors adhere to them.
you a retailer? Establish "guiding principles" on how you will treat customers
and each other! Make your store a FUN place to come to work each day. Be sure
to focus on the two areas that follow. They hold true for business leaders in
- Follow this essential and simplistic
leadership principle: The way to engage employees, is to keep them in the RIGHT
FRAME OF MIND-by making them feel they are working WITH you, not FOR you. If they
feel they are working FOR you, some of them may behave like robots who go through
the motions of their job and never put their hearts and souls into their work,
nor show initiative beyond their job role.
- If you
truly want to make a difference in your level of employee engagement, you can
accomplish this by being a great person to work WITH, and by consistently doing
the things which build relationships— expressing appreciation, encouraging,
listening, caring, asking for ideas, etc., and by not trying to exercise control.
This allows people, of their own free will, to flow in a direction that leads
them to cooperate with you and feel valued.
If you are an
employee who is finding that you are becoming more and more disengaged,
remember that the job you hold with your company is your livelihood. Maintaining
a positive attitude and following these simple guidelines may be helpful to you
and everyone around you...
- Recognize that executives,
managers and business owners make decisions to ensure the future of the enterprise.
At times, these decisions make you unhappy, especially when you are personally
affected. Contrary to what you might think, executives and business owners are
not heartless people. Many have expressed sadness over decisions to make cuts
that will directly affect their employees. Keep in mind, it's not easy to be an
executive or entrepreneur—it's tough. Real tough. Yes, they make the decisions
and the big bucks, but they don't always make the rules. They have a tough Board
of Directors and stockholders, (or owners if the company is privately owned) who
expect high profits. When they don't see profits they don't want to hear the reasons
why. They only want results.
- Know what is expected
of you. Ask questions and wait for the answers. If it's not clear to you, don't
hesitate to ask again. You'll never be sure where you stand if you don't have
direct answers to your concerns.
- Support your sales
team. Without them, no one in your company gets a paycheck.
Thine Own Self Be True." Be willing to put yourself on the line and express yourself.
Discuss your ideas and areas of concern with management, but use tact and diplomacy
in your approach. Be prepared to offer creative suggestions and solid solutions
to problems. The wish of every executive and manager is to have their people come
forward not only with problems, but solutions. Grant that wish.
on your strengths and commit to doing your best. That's all anyone wants from
- Keep your life in balance so you don't buckle
under the pressure to perform. And laugh a little! Business is serious, but find
a reason to have a laugh or two each day.
A Final Word
The vast majority of employees
today have little control over their work environments. It's important that you
focus on the areas that drive employee engagement: empowerment, self-development,
creativity, achievement, freedom to speak, freedom to contribute, opportunity
for life-balance and enjoyable relationships. When you make an effort to do so,
your people will feel more fulfilled and will become more "fully engaged."
now, ask yourself the question: "Would you work for YOU?"
2004 - Christine Corelli & Associates, Inc.
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Visit Corelli's Commentaries for more articles to help you and your business!
Christine is best known as the author of the popular books,Wake
Up and Smell the Competition and The
ART of Influencing Customers to BUY From YOU. As a keynote speaker,
conference speaker, and sales trainer she is superlative in her field. Her impressive client list includes Fortune 100 corporations, prominent national associations
and literally hundreds of mid-sized and small businesses.
more about Christine's books, keynotes, seminars or consulting, please contact:
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