How to Change the Bleak State of Employee Engagement

As technology marches forward automating more and more work tasks, organizations are scrambling to keep their employees engaged. Unfortunately, many of the technical trainings and company initiatives leaders are implementing to boost engagement miss the mark.

Gallup’s 2017 study, the State of the Global Workforce, exposes the bleak state of employee engagement. The study reveals only 15% of full-time employees worldwide are engaged while at work. In other words, a breathtaking eighty-five percent of employees are unengaged, and consequently, underutilized by their organizations.

These statistics are staggering, especially considering companies spend over $720 million on employee engagement each year. Clearly, the problem is not how much organizations spend on employee engagement, but rather, where they are directing their spending.

An analysis of 250 organizations revealed companies that focus their spending on employee experience significantly outperform their competitors who don’t. Not only that but focusing on employee experience led to larger talent pipelines and higher levels of utilization, productivity, and profitability. 

But what exactly constitutes “employee experience”?

The high numbers of millennials in or entering today’s workforce has changed employee expectations of organizational culture. Younger workers view learning and development opportunities as an essential aspect of a company’s culture. Organizations who prioritize performance development among their ranks attract quality talent and maintain higher levels of engagement among their workforce.

However, traditional organizations, who operate in a command-and-control structure, stifle their workers’ ability to gravitate towards jobs and responsibilities that best suit their strengths. By creating an employee-centric workplace, allowing workers to flex and adapt to jobs they feel best suit their strengths, leaders empower their employees and enhance employee experience. When leadership recognize and guide employees into work that suits their strengths, everything changes.

Letting go of hierarchical top-down leadership structures can be difficult for many longstanding organizations, yet it is essential to boost employee engagement. In adopting a more inclusive, employee-centered culture, organizations will provide their employees more autonomy, allowing them to pursue goals that yield benefit for both the individual and the organization. Moreover, it creates a culture that promotes positive workplace relationships and professional development, two qualities directly linked to higher levels of employee engagement.

Thus, employers need to cultivate an employee-centric culture. An employee-centric culture provides opportunities for personal and professional development, allows employees to tailor job responsibilities to individual strengths, promotes positive work relationships, and significantly improves engagement. Here are some rules-of-thumb to help your organization make the shift to an employee-centric culture.

  1. Focus on employee engagement at all levels of the organization by establishing concrete engagement expectations. Empower employees and managers to be in charge of their immediate environment and hold leaders accountable for their role in employee engagement.
  2. Select the right managers who seek to understand and utilize their employees’ strengths, recognize and value employee contributions, and continuously seek their employees’ ideas and opinions.
  3. Hold managers accountable for their role in their employees’ engagement by making them aware of their direct role in engaging their employees, and defining engagement in concrete, daily terms to help them better engage their workers.

Creating a culture promoting engagement and loyalty requires intentional action at all levels of the organization. Though challenging, increasing employee engagement pays high dividends - leaders will find higher levels of employee satisfaction and retention, increased productivity, greater levels of innovation and creativity, and substantial increases in profitability.

Successful leaders know balancing technical skills with soft skills improves teamwork, engagement, utilization, and profitability – but until now there wasn’t a process that helped team members learn theses hard-to-teach skills. The Engineering Leadership Institute (ELI) has created an affordable success focused online training, the Performance Certification System (PCS), that balances skills and improves engagement.

Our forthcoming Team Leader Guide will amplify the PCS trainings, build team engagement, and improve culture through guided team interaction. With the Team Leader Guide, teams complete the trainings together, orienting each day towards building team relationships while developing the personal effectiveness skills presented in the trainings. Through planned daily team interaction, the PCS will enable your employees and managers to cultivate a success-focused, collaborative company culture essential to long-term success. 

If you are seeking to improve the way your teams work together to better your operations, improve engagement, and increase profitability, contact ELI today!