Analyses of employee engagement in America are enough to rattle anyone who is managing staff or trying to strengthen a bottom line.
Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” survey concluded that just 30 percent of American workers feel engaged in their jobs; while Deloitte’s “Worker Passion Report” concluded that just 11 percent of the workforce possess the attributes of a passionate employee. Gallup and other research agencies point to unengaged workers as sources of lower productivity, reduced customer satisfaction, and lower product quality and corporate profits. Gallup estimated that “actively disengaged” workers alone cost the U.S. between $450 billion and $550 billion in lost productivity each year.
With so much at stake, employee engagement is clearly an issue that needs to become a bigger priority in many organizations. But how do you resolve such a big issue?
Foster great managers
If frontline supervisors and middle-level managers cannot inspire, support and effectively manage the bulk of a company’s staff, there is little that company leaders can do to create a highly engaged and productive workforce.
Hire supervisors and managers with great care, ensuring they possess essential management skills and not just subject-matter knowledge. Provide those individuals with ample training and feedback on management skills, and rate their performance, in part, on the level of engagement and productivity among their employees.
Employees understandably want to be recognized for their contributions. Frequently and enthusiastically expressing gratitude for great work will both reinforce desired behaviors and motivate employees.
And remember, there are numerous low-cost ways to express gratitude. Gift cards, employee outings, public recognition, thank you notes from managers, new professional opportunities, a bonus day off, or other modest measures can effectively convey a company’s gratitude.
Take small steps
At Fulton Financial Corporation in Lancaster, PA, a string of such small measures successfully supported employee engagement and productivity through an especially challenging period. A three-year effort to replace company’s core system required extraordinary efforts from employees. Fulton responded by expanding employee communications and rewards. It treated employees to parties, wellness programs, luncheons, breakfasts and special events, including a pig roast, barbecues and meals served by managers. Collectively, those efforts helped Fulton complete a daunting project while sustaining high employee engagement.
The list of things any organization can do to boost employee engagement is extensive, and includes expanding training, promoting social interactions and re-assessing work processes. And considering the evidence about America’s problem with employee engagement, it’s more than likely worth the effort.
Written by Alan J. Kaplan, Founder & CEO, Kaplan Partners, November 2015