Employee engagement has become a competitive advantage in recruiting and retention and employer brand building. Experts like General Electric CEO Jack Welch know that employee engagement is the best measure of a company’s health. Highly engaged employees want to come to work every day and want to do the work your company needs done to be profitable and grow. They do much more than pass the time until five o’clock, and are happy to innovate and collaborate.
That’s why an active program to promote and monitor how happy and engaged employees are is vital to a company’s operational and financial health. It requires the right tactics, including consistent employee surveys, a strategic action plan for employee engagement, and ongoing engagement enhancement to proactively manage workforce satisfaction and performance.
Employee Survey 2.0
Employers who want to know how to improve employee engagement start with the employee survey. But today’s employee survey isn’t yesterday’s annual paper questionnaire with 100 questions about the work environment, salary, and boss. Today’s employee survey uses a range of new technologies that can be deployed on a daily basis for continuous assessment in real time. The same kind of real-time data providing customer insight is providing insight into how employees feel about the companies they work for, the work they do, and why they stay.
Tech tools for employee engagement such as Celpax, emooter, and Morale.me help employers know the mood and satisfaction levels of their workforce or individual work groups daily so they know now when there’s a problem versus three weeks or three months later when things are out of control and employees have stopped caring or start leaving. When bosses know their employees are unhappy about something when it’s happening, they can start a conversation to find out how to improve it and head off escalating problems to keep productivity and morale from declining.
This kind of survey gives employers a more targeted approach to monitoring workforce satisfaction, something Leadership IQ founder and best-selling author Mark Murphy says is very important. He cautions employers to stop asking common survey questions about situations they can’t or aren’t prepared to fix, such as “Do you trust your boss?” and “Do you think your boss cares about you as a person?” because they are tricky to address and difficult to change.
Strategic Employee Engagement
Robert J. Vance, business consultant, researcher, teacher, and partner in Vance & Renz LLC, advises employers that they need to invest in employee engagement to influence engagement and commitment. He says investments in the areas of recruiting, training, designing meaningful work, and performance management will improve engagement and require wise spending to achieve specific results. Some examples include increased job complexity because of new technology addressed with training and compensation to keep employees productive and happy with their work, or the need for increased customer focus and emphasis on quality addressed with redefined performance expectations and performance management support to help employees provide better customer service.
That kind of targeted employee engagement improvement doesn’t happen without strategic planning. Josh Bersin, writing for the Deloitte Review, advises business leaders to make employee engagement a core business strategy by planning the elements that drive engagement: meaningful work, hands-on management, positive work environment, growth opportunity, and trust in leadership. Bersin says these are the things that make companies irresistible places to work and keep employees happy and productive. Clear goal setting and coaching are key techniques to use when making engagement a core business strategy, keeping lines of communication open and accessible and helping employees by being available.
Employee engagement is too important to be an annual measurement in today’s world of work. With the pace of technology and innovation set to hyperspeed, and workers expected to meet that pace, focusing on employee engagement has to be an ongoing endeavor, and so does enhancing engagement. It’s not a one-shot deal. You need to keep a finger on the pulse of your workforce, listen to their needs and consider their feelings, and be responsive to what will make them more comfortable, more productive, and happier to come to work at your company every day.
Whether your company budgets for employee engagement or expects an employee engagement mindset and action plan from management, there’s no denying the impact it has on the workforce and the bottom line. You could go out and buy a lot of nap pods and provide free food and drinks like Google, but attracting and retaining top talent doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of money. The New-York think tank Center for Talent Innovation reports that a combination of employee engagement enhancing techniques by managers who show they truly care and communicate well, are open and honest with employees instead of secretive and authoritarian, and creating meaningful non-monetary rewards like public recognition are most effective. With a focus on what can be done to improve engagement, enhancing engagement becomes a part of company culture.
Andrew Greenberg’s roots in recruiting date back to 1996. He has experience both on the agency-side and corporate-side of the staffing business, with a focus in the financial services space at companies like Bloomberg and UBS. He also has core experience with information technology staffing, and has worked for major software companies such as SAP Business Objects and IBM/Informix Software. To get in touch with Andrew, you can reach him by email or by phone at (800) 797-6160.