The powerful secret to solving the employee engagement crisis
Employee Engagement is today’s ultimate business buzzword. It has been for a long time now. In fact, add the word ‘crisis’ to it – it’s being faced around the world and being constantly debated about and researched on renowned sites such as Forbes, Deloitte, Glassdoor and more.
Take a guess: it’s no longer just an HR topic but quite an intense issue.
You might be wondering: what exactly is ‘employee engagement’?
It’s “a workplace approach to ensure that members of an organization give their best each day and are fully committed to their organization’s goals and values.” It seems pretty straightforward… But this is where lies the most important issue.
Now, let’s not underestimate that employee engagement has come a long way. But it remains an ongoing challenge for organizational leaders – and it seems as though we are helpless in finding a solution.
Today, according to Gallup, only 13% of employees worldwide are actually engaged at work. Additional research by Temkin Group demonstrates that as company size increases, engagement decreases. In result, we are typically facing a real crisis today that has potential effects on the global economy.
The real problem, also expressed on the Gallup survey, is that companies are focusing too much on measuring engagement rather than improving it. “Many of these survey-only approaches measure employee perceptions and provide metrics instead of improving workplaces and business outcomes.”
In result, this is why I have decided to go into depth into the secret to (alternatively) solving this so-called crisis that we have been facing for over a decade.
1.How is employee engagement even measured?
Before going in depth into the crisis, it’s essential to develop the ways in which companies measure their employee engagement.
As mentioned before, companies are measuring too much instead of improving. But how are they even measuring?
Here’s the deal:
Most of today’s businesses spend time building metrics such as online surveys or simply assessing company-wide attitudes. Some base their employee engagement on simple criteria such as job satisfaction, opportunity to perform well, personal support or the amount of efforts taken.
If you think about it, none of these are very significant. Most of the time, companies spend so much time measuring the wrong things and in result go nowhere near finding a solution. Or, they tend to blame HR for addressing feedback to employees, whereas it’s purely up to leaders and managers to do so.
Going back to the use of surveys, it can be tricky as firstly, “an Employee Engagement Survey can generate energy, but this energy has to be sustained” and secondly, as survey results don’t even bring big changes with their feedback.
In result, let us never underestimate that engagement is an emotion, first and foremost. Isn’t it a bit too far-fetched and superficial to give it a rating?
2.The secret to solving the crisis isn’t technology
On the contrary to what you might have read or heard, technology is not the ultimate solution for employee engagement.
Indeed, companies have globally ensured to always be up to date with the latest technologies in the hope of improving productivity. Technology certainly helps building metrics to measure engagement but it doesn’t solve the actual underlying problem.
Examples of user and mobile-friendly platforms which help companies collaborate easier and improve communication – such as Slack or even Facebook’s Messenger for business – are clearly efficient. But, as Matt Lane declared in his article, “These tools alone cannot drive the change desired within your organization”. Simply, these digital platforms will not solve how an employee will be committed or not to an organization.
Additionally, some will argue that the mediums of technology will lead to building better relationships between colleagues. Indeed, these platforms help for social interaction – but do they really act as the main actor?
The answer is no. Disagreeably, genuine relationships will build between colleagues who make efforts in not only collaborating together but understanding each other – and who evidently share the same goals.
To put this in perspective, it’s as if you were saying that you can completely rely on online platforms to build friendships. This might be true for some people depending on what they’re seeking…but these would nevertheless lack complete genuineness.
3. But recognizing human complexity
Let’s put technology aside and think about us humans. Just think for a second how complex we are. How complex it is for us to reach complete satisfaction in many aspects and ways in our lives. We are intertwined between our own chemistry, our state of being, our relationships with others, our ways of thinking, our psychology and so on…
When shedding the light on the complexity of humans, we realize that perhaps, employee engagement is a lot more complicated than we think. Acknowledging all our dynamics and our factors of happiness and satisfaction makes us shift our perspectives.
In result, if companies took more time to examine all human factors, perhaps workplace engagement would deliver higher results. Employee engagement is just as complex as us.
For instance, us humans are constantly seeking for connection. Here, it’s essential to mention Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs: as connection is a ‘basic human need’, just above ‘physical safety’. Connection is the feeling of being part of an organization. Employees who refer to their company in terms of “we” are a lot more engaged than those who refer to the company as “they”, based on Daniel Pink’s book DRIVE. This makes complete sense.
Another interesting fact to mention is that employees with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be fully engaged at work.
Now, interestingly, Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs (mentioned above) can be applied to employee engagement. At the end of the day, our motivations and needs heavily influence our work performance.
Seeking to engage your employees? Make sure they are fully engaged in their basic needs first. (to a certain extent, obviously).
4.And implementing positive psychology
You’ve most definitely heard about positive psychology (hopefully you have).
Positive psychology is defined as “the scientific study of what makes life most worth living” on Psychology Today. In other words, instead of concentrating on people’s problems in psychology; the shift is focused on what is positive. Simply put, it’s shedding light on what is good in life and in people.
And take a guess…
It works wonders.
Positive psychology has proven to work very well. It can be implemented through simple ways such as giving compliments (obviously when it’s right to do so), focusing on strengths, and changing perceptions: focusing on the positive instead of the negative.
Sounds simple, right? But that doesn’t mean it’s common sense.
The important thing to underline here is that through positive psychology focus, employees will start to gain trust. They will feel trust from their leaders and in result feel and give trust themselves.
Want to know the best part?
Positive psychology leads to trust – which leads to engagement – and what does engagement lead to?
Now, this permits us to shift our perspectives importantly. According to Bill Sedgwick in his article On leaders: think and act positively, “Telling people they do good work is a way to unlock their bold dreams about what they could strive for next.” Not only will employees gain trust but they will also gain a lot in their self-growth and discoveries – which goes back to satisfying humans needs.
5.Without ever neglecting the influence of leaders.
Now that technology, human complexity and positive psychology have been discussed – it’s only right to delve into the influence that leaders have on employee engagement.
In fact, Gallup’s research shows that the manager has 70% impact on the engagement of their teams. “Whatever the performance of your teams – high or mediocre – your managers are the ones driving it. Celebrate those who are doing it right.”, says Matt Lane.
Leaders, if you are reading this and if you don’t know it already, your engagement impacts all the people you work with. If you are not engaged yourself, it’s impossible to engage the disengaged.
Here are examples of emotional drivers which leaders should focus on when thinking of employee engagement, based on Bill Hogg’s report, which absolutely had to be mentioned:
6.Positive work environment
Now, what does these 8 drivers make us think about?
Trust, through the means of positive psychology.
Indeed, each one of them have one aim: to bring positivity into the employees’ mind. In a very fascinating report called Blame the Boss: How leaders influence employee engagement, the authors conclude that “Organizations benefit when leaders improve their strategic self-awareness and understanding of how their reputation enables or undermines intrinsic motivation and engagement. Indeed, leaders hold the key to an engaged workforce.”
This works the same way between teachers and their students. For instance, if a teacher doesn’t deliver positivity, trust and recognition to each student, chances are, the students will not grow or gain any confidence.
To conclude, the real reason why there is so much concern around employee engagement is because it is essential to a company’s growth and culture as much as it is for an individual’s personal growth and his or her work commitment. The problem is, leaders should shift their ways of thinking: implementing constructive and psychological ways to improve employee engagement rather than measuring it in bumbling and inefficient ways.
Companies need to understand their employees and their customers. Perhaps, even view their employees as customers and treat them the same way. Simply put, showing the same amount of care for their employees – and besides, how do you think general relationships work? Caring is essential.
Engaged employees are invested in their jobs, their performances, and in result, deliver great and valuable work. And when they are engaged, they are fully involved in the company’s values, beliefs and goals. “Engaged employees are more productive, customer-focused, and profit-generating and employers are more likely to retain them.” confirms Susan Heathfield, on The Balance.
Additionally, on the long term, lack of employee engagement can have a huge repercussion on the global economy.
Likewise, what’s the point of working 92 120 hours in our lives if it’s to feel disengaged? We should all look forward to go to work on Monday mornings.
To wrap it up, we can say that trust really is the most essential in building employee engagement. This trust can be expressed through positive psychology manners and the simple display of caring. And that happens with a great, engaged leader.
Remember: No trust, no engagement.
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