Employee Engagement is a Group Effort

Unemployed and underemployed workers now face a previously underestimated competitor in their job hunts: the currently employed. In its 2008/2009 Employee Satisfaction and Retention Survey, Salary.com revealed that nearly 65% of surveyed employees were “passively or actively looking for a new job”.  This came as a surprise to employers, who incorrectly estimated only 37% were combing the want ads and sending out resumes. In a previous blog post by Deb Siverson, she pointed to a recent survey from Opinion Research Corporation which states, “of those surveyed, 80% reported they would leave their current position if presented with other opportunities, while 25% said they already have plans to leave their current employer once the job market stabilizes. Employees who are most likely to job hop are between the ages of 18-34. The survey showed that only 19% are happy with their current employer.”

Despite a bleak hiring environment, today’s Americans are still not content to simply have a job. Employees want a job that fulfills their personal and professional goals. Frankly stated, employers who do not actively work to link their employee’s passion and purpose to the job will soon find themselves rifling through resumes. Or worse, be stuck with a stagnant, uninspired, and underwhelming workforce. How does this hurt? Employees are less skilled and efficient. Training dollars are squandered.  Customers suffer, or move on. Hours are logged for a paycheck, rather than objectives accomplished for a goal.

The time to engage your employees is now. Here are a few suggestions to help you start today:

Interact: If you want to find out what makes your employees tick, you’re going to have to ask. What motivates them? What inspires them? Where do they want to land on their career path, and how does their current role fit into that vision? The best way to ignite passion in your employees is to tap into their natural passions as individuals. Surveys can help in this discovery process, but nothing works as well as an authentic, old-fashioned, one-on-one discussion.

Train: When times get tough, organizations often make the fatal error of freezing training.  It is important to remember that training is not a luxury item; it is a key element in the development and retention of your best team members. It sends the message that you are invested in an individual’s advancement. As a result, employee engagement and performance increase.

Involve: Employees take a more active interest in an organization’s mission when they take a more active role in determining strategies and action plans to accomplish that mission. Gone are the days of leaders offering tid-bits of information on a need-to-know basis. Today’s successful leader develops a community within the organization where people come together to brain storm, prioritize, and overcome challenges together.

Exercise: Increasing in popularity, Health and Productivity plans actively demonstrate an organization’s care for its people.  Fit employees are better employees. Not only does a healthy body increase an individual’s energy, alertness, and overall morale, but healthy bodies miss less work due to illness and burn-out. When people feel better, they are less susceptible to stress, and better able to focus on their work and engage those around them.

Empower: There is only so much you can do to engage your workers. At some point, an employee will need to take personal ownership of his or her engagement. Here are some tips to help team members help themselves:

  • Voice your opinion – don’t wait to be asked for your two cents, give it.
  • Innovate – bring a new idea to the table.
  • Exude positivity – It’s easy to find the negative in anything. Speak and act positively, and you may find you begin to feel that way. A positive attitude is the engine of success.
  • Recruit – Find bright, positive, and innovative people outside of the organization (friends, acquaintances) and pull them in. Help the company build a better team.