How did you feel about going to work this morning? Many factors influenced whether you really felt like it but one of the most significant was almost surely your boss- yes your boss!
The influence of the boss makes a huge difference when it comes to engagement and retention so this should not be delegated often to the HR department.
Employee engagement remains a challenge for companies worldwide. Recently Bain and Company, in conjunction with Netsurvey, analyzed responses from 200,000 employees across 40 companies in 60 countries and found several troubling trends:
- Engagement scores decline with employee tenure, meaning that employees with the deepest knowledge of the company typically are the least engaged.
- Engagement scores decline as you go down the organization chart, so highly engaged senior executives are likely to underestimate the discontent on the front lines.
- Engagement levels are lowest among sales and service employees, who have the most interactions with customers.
These are trends and by no means facts attributable to any one company. Cynicism or not paying deep attention to this as an issue doesn't make the problem less of a challenge.
Some secrets of Employee engagement shared by leading companies:
Line Leaders lead the charge. It's difficult for employees to be truly engaged if they don't like or trust their bosses.
That's why it's critical for organisations to treat team engagement as a high priority for supervisors and measure this- and not just merely prescribe solutions.
They also do regular "pulse checks". Stay Interviews can be a pulse check that Directors and C-suite executives, Managers and Supervisors can leverage to better understand team dynamics and a sense of how the team believes customers' experiences can be improved. What matters most, however, is not the metrics but the resulting dialogue.
Instead of over-investing in manager training, focus on helping managers apply their existing business skills to their most effective lever of engagement: connecting employees' individual roles to the organisation.
Demonstrate a "Credible Commitment" to Employee Development: Engagement grows in a climate of organisational commitment to employee development, requiring managers to implement development plans with the resources and support necessary to credibly convince employees of the organization's commitment to their development.
Supervisors learn how to hold candid dialogues with teams. Not every supervisor is a natural at engaging employees, so leading companies provide training and coaching on how to encourage constructive discussions with team members. Trainers prepare them to handle sensitive topics like requests for better pay or worries about outsourcing. The training also stresses the importance of taking the right actions quickly and then telling employees how their input contributed to the improvements. Line leaders need to really learn how to give this feedback and not "steal the thunder" 100 percent of the time.
Employee Engagement issues continue to take centre stage for people- directly or indirectly and results have been somewhat underwhelming. The current approach in and most organisation need to be turned outside in.
-Ngozi Adebiyi is in the CEO/Lead Consultant @OutsideIn HR
"OutsideIn HR- We develop commercially astute HR leaders and equip business leaders & employees to build an Ownership mindset!"
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