Employee engagement ideas and best practices

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Employee engagement ideas and best practices

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Employee engagement ideas and best practices

  1. 1. Employee Engagement Through Leadership Development
  2. 2. 2www. mutualforce.com Introduction What does it mean to keep your employees engaged in the workplace? For many managers, there is no real answer – because there is no established protocol. With more than half of the American population feeling disengaged at their place of work,1 companies are now left with the task of re-engaging valued employees while focusing heavily on leadership development. The concept of employee engagement itself has changed over the past decade, which is the biggest reason for its unclear definition. “Engagement” can mean many things at once – flex hours, a foosball table, employee surveys – but these are nothing more than checkbox options. Companies keep the basics covered, but don’t understand why engagement is important, or how engaged employees are linked to happier customers and higher revenues. If your revenues have been flat-lining lately, a more engaged workforce may solve the problem. In this whitepaper, we’ll touch on all the important issues facing businesses in regards to employee engagement: a clear definition of what it is, why old models are failing, what managers can do to facilitate employee engagement, leadership development, and more. What is Employee Engagement? At its core, employee engagement is comprised of: • The extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs • The extent to which employees are committed to the organization’s goals and values • The extent to which employees are able to enhance their own sense of well being It differs from employee satisfaction, as employee satisfaction simply measures how happy employees are based on factors such as salary and number of vacation days. Employee engagement is an approach designed to make employees “feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves.”2 It requires more effort than handing all engagement initiatives to the human resources department and giving employees a standardized form to fill out once every four months. Any organization that places a high value on attracting the best talent, retaining high value employees, increasing profits, and being a leader in customer service, needs to make employee engagement a priority. Before we can take a closer look at the benefits of employee engagement, we first need to understand why the antiquated approach to employee engagement no longer applies to modern organizations. Employee engagement differs from employee satisfaction, as employee satisfaction simply measures how happy employees are based on factors such as salary and number of vacation days.
  3. 3. 3www. mutualforce.com Where Employee Engagement is Failing The current framework for employee engagement programs relies heavily on surveys and feedback forms – a method that can be traced all the way back to the late 1800s.3 This current, widely accepted method has four main flaws, which are often overlooked and remain unchanged. 1. Surveys offer unreliable responses In many cases, employees fill out surveys haphazardly, disingenuously, and in some cases, maliciously. Employees who have filled out surveys in the past and have seen no change in the way the company treats its employees, for example, may fill out the surveys with complete disregard knowing that change is hopeless. 2. Responses are collected too often, or not often enough How often should surveys be conducted in order to measure levels of change in employee engagement? Done too often and companies risk the chance overanalyzing the splits, done too far apart and by that time the majority of employees in the company may be brand new, making the past responses to the survey outdated. There’s also the problem with trying to understand the results. Software and new technology can breakdown survey results and provide insights, but mangers would have to analyze the results manually, leading to a limited scope of understanding and a higher chance of human error. 3. Anonymous surveys present a blurred audience Employee engagement surveys are traditionally done anonymously in order to make employees feel more comfortable in replying, allowing for more open and honest responses. As a result, it’s hard to know if engagement levels are being pulled high or low based on just a specific group of people in the company. Even when split by business unit, each person in that unit may have different responsibilities and clients that can throw off the results of the survey. 4. Organizations treat engagement as ‘one size fits all’ Annabel Jones, HR Director at ADP UK, explains that: Engagement isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach – different personalities and generations are motivated in different ways. All factors must be addressed – from reward and benefits, to training managers, to giving feedback and praise regularly and empowering employees to drive and manage their own career development.4 As an example, with younger workers joining the workplace, and the prevalence of new and emerging technology, offices have failed to take advantage of more hands on tools that can speak to this growing demographic. Software based engagement programs, or online workshop portals, are examples of new methods that businesses can use that can reach multiple organizational levels in a more flexible, transparent, and accurate manner.
  4. 4. 4www. mutualforce.com Recognition and Rewards Programs Need Revamping Recognition and rewards programs, another common engagement method, can play a big role in facilitating positive employee engagement. But with “only 14% of organizations [providing] managers with the necessary tools for [employee] rewards and recognition,”5 recognition programs are rarely executed properly, and can do more damage than good as a result. Perks Aren’t Perfect The outdated surveys and improper training for rewards and recognition programs leads to a blanketing of “perks” to try and change company culture. “Perks [are used] to try to foster engagement, because perks are visible and tangible,” explained Einar Westerlund, director of project development for the Queen’s Centre for Business Venturing, to ProfitGuide.com.6 Perks are, “easier to understand than the underlying concept of engagement, which is a very deep-rooted commitment to performance,” says Westerlund, “[and] can be there as embellishments. But by themselves, they don’t work.” The misuse of perks leads to companies wasting their money to spring for benefits that do nothing for productivity.7 Change in Employee Engagement Programs are Needed In short, the current method of analyzing employee engagement is “not detailed enough, it isn’t real- time, and it doesn’t consider all the work related issues which drive employee commitment.”8 It focuses on paper, pencil, and perks, but fails to leverage tools that perform and respond much better with employees, including software dedicated to engagement, training, and mentoring. The current method of employee engagement also points to the importance of leadership development programs, and how organizations are currently undervaluing the role that office leaders play in fostering employee growth and well-being. Focus on Leadership Development What is the connection between leadership in an organization, and employees that feel engaged and wanted? The quick answer is that employees work alongside management everyday, and people – management, in this case - have the biggest impact on engagement and workplace culture. Employees won’t be engaged if they don’t trust or like their managers or supervisors.9 Proper leadership development is essential to building an environment of strong employee engagement. The reasons for ineffective leadership development can be chalked up to four structural issues within a company: The misuse of perks leads to companies wasting their money to spring for benefits that do nothing for productivity.
  5. 5. 5www. mutualforce.com 1. Too much finger pointing Who is responsible for fostering a culture of empowered employees? Managers say human resources (HR) should lead the charge. HR will say that managers should lead the charge. In a recent survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 93% of CEOs said that they needed to change their employee engagement strategies - but 61% of those CEOs hadn’t taken any action, as they didn’t “think the HR function could cope.”10 Another study conducted by Aberdeen Group Human Capital Management (HCM) found that 47% of organizations feel that HR is overwhelmed with administrative tasks that add no value to the organization.11 HR is being looked at to change the face of employee engagement, which means they’re directly responsible for employee productivity, well-being, and company profitability. It’s a flawed concept. Employees report directly to managers and supervisors, not the HR department, and as a result strong leadership programs need to be developed with management in mind. 2. Ownership over integration Expanding on the first point, employee engagement isn’t a side project and shouldn’t be treated as such. In many organizations, a department or person “owns” engagement. It needs to be integrated into several areas and functions of the business for it to be truly successful. It beings immediately, with HR being involved every step of the way during the onboarding process. In order for employee engagement to be truly successful, it should permeate every level and stage of an organization. 3. Feedback and follow-up “An employee engagement process can only be effective if managers read, fully understand, and act on their low engagement scores,”12 explains Dr. John Sullivan, author of 10 books on talent management. Confusion over the term “employee engagement,” combined with a lack of understanding of how it impacts company finances, leads to management shrugging at the need to make necessary changes, or to following up with the feedback they’ve been given from employees. 4. Leadership tactics aren’t practiced enough Leadership development programs need to be created and implemented with constant practice in mind. Without proper training and constant application, those undertaking developing their leadership skills may fall back into the old, infective engagement methods they used in the past. Lessons learned need to be reinforced and used often, as opposed to developed, used once, and forgotten overtime. In a poll by Parade magazine, 35% of U.S. workers polled said they would forgo a substantial pay raise in exchange for seeing their direct supervisor fired.
  6. 6. 6www. mutualforce.com Pick the Right Managers to Become Leaders There’s a fifth reason as to why leadership development is ineffective and failing: those in management positions aren’t suited to be leaders. People selected to be in management positions – whether from a promotion or direct hire – are traditionally chosen due to their success in a previous role, or as a reward for their tenure within the company. It focuses more on the process, and less on the person, and as a result not every manager is inspiring or talented enough to lead a team. How much influence does a manager hold over their employees? Consider the following: • 18% of the U.S. population considers themselves to be “actively disengaged”, which means they are actively against what the organization, and their boss, is trying to get done.13 • In a poll by Parade magazine, 35% of U.S. workers polled said they would forgo a substantial pay raise in exchange for seeing their direct supervisor fired.14 Managers have a direct influence over the productivity of the team they lead, how employees grow as people, and how dedicated employees are to the company. Employee engagement scores tend to decline as you go down the organizational chart.15 This means upper management may not even realize there is an employee engagement problem within the company. It’s an uphill battle if everyone at, and above, a certain level of management in the company is oblivious to the issues that employees face on a day-to-day basis. Managers Need the Right Skills to Facilitate Employee Engagement Skilled managers know that they need to build upon their existing traits of being results orientated, supportive, and truly concerned about the well being of their employees, to truly succeed in building positive employee engagement for everyone involved. Engagement programs will fail otherwise. Skilled managers always do the following: 1. Skilled managers put people in the best position to succeed Much like an organization needs to select the best candidates for management positions, beyond tenure or due to checklist items (as we discussed above), managers need to ensure that they put the employees that work under them in positions that fully leverage their abilities, talents, and strengths. Employees need to be assigned work and be placed in a position to which they’re both well suited and emotionally connected. This begins immediately from the selection process – whether hiring and onboarding, or promoting from within, the biggest mistake a manager can make is hiring someone unfit or unsuited for the role. Managers need to provide clear explanations of what is expected from their employees. A lack of clarity leads to confusion, frustration, and a disengaged workplace.
  7. 7. 7www. mutualforce.com 2. Skilled managers set clear-cut expectations. Managers need to provide clear explanations of what is expected from their employees. A lack of clarity leads to confusion, frustration, and a disengaged workplace. Changes happen in every office – turnover, change company direction, promotions, and more. Establishing a clear path to communication and keeping all employees up to date makes employees feel trusted, and gives them a better sense of control over their work, leading to higher engagement. 3. Skilled managers give employees the tools they need to do their job Equipment, support, knowledge, software – whatever it may be – giving employees the tools they need to have complete control over their work, and enable them to work faster and be more productive, will keep them highly engaged. If an employee has an interest in something that doesn’t relate directly to the job (e.g. an interest in photography), skilled managers also know that giving them the tools to “blossom” outside of the office (e.g. paid lessons with a professional), will have direct benefits on how that employee performs on the job and feels about the company. 4. Skilled managers heap praise and recognition We’ve discussed how engagement programs, which include recognition and rewards programs, can fail when the manager isn’t prepared or educated enough. In a lot of ways, organizations do not provide mangers with the tools and “green light” needed to recognize and reward their employees like they should. Many managers and organizations underestimate how important it is to make employees feel needed, appreciated, and valued. For many employees, not receiving any praise or recognition can make them feel overlooked, or taken for granted. Skilled managers over-appreciate employees and praise good outcomes, rather than stay quiet and not express appreciation. The Link Between Employee Engagement and Leadership Development As we’ve touched upon, there is a certain set of managerial skills needed to ensure that engagement programs don’t fail. What are the results when proper leadership development is established? Consider the following: • Businesses with engaged employees outperform those without engaged employees by up to 22%.16 • Organizations in the “top decile of engagement outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.”17 • The same organizations have a 90% better growth trend than their competition.18 A recent publication by Bain & Company highlights the process from which engaged employees benefit from strong leadership development, and how these employee benefits can help grow the company.
  8. 8. 8www. mutualforce.com Authors Domenico Azzarello, Frédéric Debruyne and Ludovica Mottura illustrate that, Engaged employees go the extra mile to deliver. Their enthusiasm rubs off on other employees and on customers. They provide better experiences for customers, approach the job with energy — which enhances productivity — and come up with creative product, process and service improvements. They remain with their employer for longer tenures, which reduces turnover and its related costs. In turn, they create passionate customers who buy more, stay longer and tell their friends—generating sustainable growth.19 Rackspace, an IT-hosting company, places a high value on employee engagement, and as a result, is known for its exceptional customer service support. The motivated Rackspace employees (known as “Rackers”) go above and beyond to create a superior, and memorable, experience for customers. The result? Intense customer loyalty contributing to Rackspace’s 25% CAGR (compound annual revenue growth) and 48% profit growth since 2008.20 Remove All Barriers by Investing in Quality Infrastructure Companies that take employee engagement seriously always invest in quality infrastructure. Having the right technology in place opens the doors for increased collaboration and increased communication, which are both “prerequisites for a successful employee engagement strategy.”21 This technology can take place in several forms, but the most popular, and most efficient, is cloud-based software. Quality technology provides access to resources and tools, which aren’t present in other platforms. For example, cloud-based solutions can provide real-time collaboration, reporting, mentoring and training between employees and management, separated by countries. In most cases, the same solutions are also used to train managers to become better leaders. The technology allows everyone at every level of the organization to focus on developing and implementing employee engagement strategies. Outdated technology is often “fragmented and outdated”22 and can impede the potential to increase efficiency and aid in decision-making. Conclusion Companies who place a high value on employee engagement realize the potential it provides. Employees who are enthusiastic about what they do, onboard with the company vision, work with leaders who truly want to see them succeed, and are given room to grow outside of the company, are the same employees that stay with the company long-term, become the strongest managers, and are responsible for organization growth and increase profits. Throw away the outdated questionnaires and surveys, and you’ll begin to see employees transform themselves overnight.
  9. 9. 9www. mutualforce.com About Mutual Force Mutual Force is the provider of cloud-based mentoring, leadership development and employee engagement software and is used to support some of the largest fortune 500 companies. Mutual Force empowers mid-market to enterprise organizations across major industries with the ability to provide mentoring programs for various talent management initiatives like on-boarding, leadership development and retention. Our leading-edge leadership development and employee engagement software, Pulse, provides a unified technology platform for leadership development and employee engagement. Pulse provides experiential leadership training to your managers when they work on fixing employee or client engagement issues. Pulse helps in action planning and implementation (leadership development component) based on constant employee feedback, suggestions and ideas (employee engagement component). We think that employee surveys capture what leaders want to know vs what employees have to tell and Pulse provides a way to get constant feedback and ideas from employees and keep them engaged by acting on these ideas and suggestions. Leaders get experiential training in this process and don’t have to rely on leadership training workshops which focuses on theory. Pulse is based on adult learning theory, our employee engagement model, situational leadership theory, problem based learning (PBL) or action learning and collaborative leadership development. Learn more about Pulse here. We go beyond the average mentoring, leadership development and employee engagement software solutions and take a personalized approach to every customer needs. Our solution is designed to be flexible, scalable and customizable to meet your unique business priorities. We deliver software, that looks inside your organization culture for solutions and focuses on action.
  10. 10. 10www. mutualforce.com Sources 1 Crowley, Mark. “Gallup’s Workplace Jedi On How To Fix Our Employee Engagement Problem.” Fast Company. http://www.fastcompany.com/3011032/ creative-conversations/gallups-workplace-jedi-on-how-to-fix-our-employee-engagement-problem 2 Bersin, Josh. “It’s Time To Rethink The ‘Employee Engagement’ Issue.” Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2014/04/10/its-time-to-rethink- the-employee-engagement-issue/ 3 Bersin, Josh. “It’s Time To Rethink The ‘Employee Engagement’ Issue.” Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2014/04/10/its-time-to-rethink- the-employee-engagement-issue/ 4 The Daily Telegraph. “Employee engagement for a brave new HR world.” Business Reporter. http://business-reporter.co.uk/2014/07/employee- engagement-for-a-brave-new-hr-world/ 5 Laurano, Madeline. “The Power of Employee Recognition.” . http://go.globoforce.com/rs/globoforce/images/AberdeenReportNovember2013.pdf 6 Aarts, Deborah. “The Truth About Employee Engagement.” PROFITguidecom The Truth About Employee Engagement Comments. http://www.profitguide. com/manage-grow/human-resources/the-truth-about-employee-engagement-62387 7 Aarts, Deborah. “The Truth About Employee Engagement.” PROFITguidecom The Truth About Employee Engagement Comments. http://www.profitguide. com/manage-grow/human-resources/the-truth-about-employee-engagement-62387 8 Bersin, Josh. “It’s Time To Rethink The ‘Employee Engagement’ Issue.” Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2014/04/10/its-time-to-rethink- the-employee-engagement-issue/ 9 Markey, Rob. “The Four Secrets to Employee Engagement.” Harvard Business Review. http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/01/the-four-secrets-to-employee- engagement/ 10 The Daily Telegraph. “Employee engagement for a brave new HR world.” Business Reporter. http://business-reporter.co.uk/2014/07/employee- engagement-for-a-brave-new-hr-world/ 11 The Daily Telegraph. “Employee engagement for a brave new HR world.” Business Reporter. http://business-reporter.co.uk/2014/07/employee- engagement-for-a-brave-new-hr-world/ 12 Sullivan, John. “What’s Wrong With Employee Engagement? The Top 20 Potential Problems.” . http://www.ere.net/2012/02/23/what%E2%80%99s- wrong-with-employee-engagement-the-top-20-potential-problems/ 13 Crowley, Mark. “Gallup’s Workplace Jedi On How To Fix Our Employee Engagement Problem.” Fast Company. http://www.fastcompany.com/3011032/ creative-conversations/gallups-workplace-jedi-on-how-to-fix-our-employee-engagement-problem 14 Crowley, Mark. “Gallup’s Workplace Jedi On How To Fix Our Employee Engagement Problem.” Fast Company. http://www.fastcompany.com/3011032/ creative-conversations/gallups-workplace-jedi-on-how-to-fix-our-employee-engagement-problem 15 Markey, Rob. “The Four Secrets to Employee Engagement.” Harvard Business Review. http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/01/the-four-secrets-to-employee- engagement/ 16 The Daily Telegraph. “Employee engagement for a brave new HR world.” Business Reporter. http://business-reporter.co.uk/2014/07/employee- engagement-for-a-brave-new-hr-world/ 17 Crowley, Mark. “Gallup’s Workplace Jedi On How To Fix Our Employee Engagement Problem.” Fast Company. http://www.fastcompany.com/3011032/ creative-conversations/gallups-workplace-jedi-on-how-to-fix-our-employee-engagement-problem 18 Crowley, Mark. “Gallup’s Workplace Jedi On How To Fix Our Employee Engagement Problem.” Fast Company. http://www.fastcompany.com/3011032/ creative-conversations/gallups-workplace-jedi-on-how-to-fix-our-employee-engagement-problem 19 Azzarello, Domenico, Frédéric Debruyne, and Ludovica Mottura. “The chemistry of enthusiasm.” - Bain & Company. http://www.bain.com/publications/ articles/the-chemistry-of-enthusiasm.aspx 20 Markey, Rob. “The Four Secrets to Employee Engagement.” Harvard Business Review. http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/01/the-four-secrets-to-employee- engagement/ 21 The Daily Telegraph. “Employee engagement for a brave new HR world.” Business Reporter. http://business-reporter.co.uk/2014/07/employee- engagement-for-a-brave-new-hr-world/ 22 The Daily Telegraph. “Employee engagement for a brave new HR world.” Business Reporter. http://business-reporter.co.uk/2014/07/employee- engagement-for-a-brave-new-hr-world/

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