Look at a company with a reputation for strong employee engagement and you’ll find a high performing business. We’re not making this up.
There’s a consistent, statistically significant relationship between higher levels of employee engagement and financial performance.
Yet, while employee engagement continues to be more important than ever, and certainly a top priority for business leaders, truly engaged employees are still the exception, not the rule in most modern workplaces. Indeed, the 2017 Trends in Global Employee Engagement Report from Aon Hewitt, shows global employee engagement has actually fallen in the last year.
Employee engagement rates are on the decline
Defined as the level of an employee’s psychological investment in their organisation, just 24% of all employees fall into the highly engaged category and another 39% can be categorised as moderately engaged. This puts the global engagement score at 63% compared to 65% the previous year.
Equally worrying is another report from technology giant Oracle. It shows just 37% of non-management employees are proud to work for their organisation, while approximately 70% of senior managers and directors are emphatically so.
This disconnect points to a high degree of disengagement among those in non-management positions. Only 21% feel they can advance their career with their current employer and just 39% see a long-term future with their company.
Could it be that your employees are not as enthralled with working at your company as you are?
The employee engagement disconnect
So, why should you care?
According to Gallup, employee engagement is directly linked to other factors that probably matter a great deal to you, such as significantly lower employee turnover and absenteeism rates, 17% higher productivity, and 21% greater profitability. Cha-ching! Let’s get those employees engaged!
What causes a disengaged workforce?
Employee disengagement can be a product of many things:
- Poor management and leadership
- Inadequate feedback
- Poor alignment of individual goals with business goals
- Lack of recognition
When your employees don’t see the point in the work they do, receive little recognition or inadequate feedback, it quickly impacts job satisfaction and of course performance.
It’s not just Millennials who famously need to feel they play a significant role in their company’s success. Innovative thinking happens across all generations of employees. Businesses risk losing out on valuable contributions by not giving staff the opportunity to showcase their talents. It’s no surprise that people tend to leave organisations where there’s little meaning or significance in their work.
What can you do to increase employee engagement?
1 – Align individual goals with broader company goals
As a business owner, it’s important that you take the time to ensure everyone in your company understands how their goals connect to and align with the broader company goals. And at the same time, ensure there are sufficient opportunities for all employees to fully utilise their abilities and develop skills.
When you better understand your employee’s goals, you can help them connect those expectations to the overall goals of the business. And don’t forget about recognition. Sometimes, a simple pat on the back, or a thoughtful note thanking employees for their contribution goes a long way.
2 – Get your people into the right roles
In an earlier post, we talked at length about ways you can keep your employees happy even when budgets are tight. But sometimes, the employee engagement disconnect comes down to the quality of your leaders and managers. The most common reason people give for leaving their jobs is their relationship with their boss.
It’s important to do all you can to develop the people skills of your managers. All too often managers get promoted because they excel at their job, and not necessarily because they make great managers.
In other research by Gallup, the research company says an alarmingly high percentage of managers around the world are not meeting the needs of their employees. Actively disengaged employees (24%) outnumber engaged employees (13%) by a radio of almost 2:1. According to these numbers, it seems that work is more commonly a source of frustration rather than fulfilment.
In short, managers who lack people skills and are entirely focused on bottom line results become a barrier to company performance.
And if you are the manager, could you be the problem?
3 – Learn how to be a better boss
No-one likes to work for a boss who isn’t personally involved or concerned about anything other than on-the-job performance. It’s the fastest way to disengagement. By contrast, high levels of employee engagement come from a manager who helps people feel like they are the future of the organisation and they are helping them do what they do best.
Traits of a good boss include:
- Clearly communicating performance expectations
- Publicly and privately recognising team members for their contributions
- Empowering employees with responsibility
- Trusting employees to complete tasks without micro-managing
- Showing empathy and listening
- Delegating effectively
- Providing timely and meaningful feedback
- Supporting employee growth and development.
Does this sound like you?
If you aren’t really sure how engaged your employees are, consider asking them. You can take the pulse on employee sentiment through an employee happiness survey. We’ve compiled 17 essential questions you need to ask in the survey.
And for more on retaining and engaging a millennial workforce, download our free eBook.
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