How many of your employees are fully engaged; that is, involved in and enthusiastic about their work, willing to go the extra mile in support of the business and its stated goals?
Last year, Gallup’s ‘State of the Global Workforce’ report indicated that, in Western Europe, only 10% of employees are actively engaged at work. That’s nine out of every ten employees unfulfilled, unhappy and unproductive.
Poor engagement erodes virtually every metric used to measure business effectiveness. And if this survey is to be believed, it’s at epidemic levels.
What stops people being engaged?
Line management is fundamental to employee engagement. Everything good about a working environment can be stifled by a bad manager; at best, they impact innovation and productivity, at worst, they bleed morale, increase staff churn and create silos. A poor relationship with their manager is often the reason for an employee deciding to leave a business.
However, by building positive individual relationships, talented managers supercharge engagement and productivity.
The changing makeup of today’s workplace demographic means different age-groups hold different beliefs, expectations and tolerances towards their employer. Managers with an individualised approach are able to account and adjust for these differences.
They work to understand their team’s intrinsic individual motivations, their goals, and the strengths that will help them achieve.
In its report, Gallup says: “Businesses that orient performance management systems around basic human needs for psychological engagement, such as positive workplace relationships, frequent recognition, ongoing performance conversations and opportunities for personal development, get the most out of their employees.”
In the US, where the engagement rate is closer to a third, employee respondents to the survey reported that they were more likely than anywhere else to have the opportunity to gravitate towards what they do best. In the US, value is placed on having the right person in the right job.
Employees who feel their opinions don’t count are far more likely to feel uninspired and disengaged at work. The doubt instilled in their competency and ability to progress deals their motivation and productivity a crippling blow.
Conversely, an employee given the flexibility and autonomy to contribute and make suggestions is more likely to display initiative, contributing to the development and implementation of new ideas.
Systems like the XCD platform empower employees to both keep up to date with company info and share their opinion. It provides a framework for the process, although the onus is still on line management and business leaders to acknowledge and respond to ideas that are fed up the chain.
A workforce empowered in this way is more likely to innovate in ways that benefit the organisation.
No time for the big picture
Gallup’s engagement statistics indicate a societal problem as much as a business one. But what is HR’s role at an organisational level?
You’re probably getting the basics right: Transparent working processes, managing clear career development paths and providing accessible, relevant learning opportunities – these are critical to engagement.
Communicating and instilling an organisational sense of purpose that people can buy into; empowering line management with the relationship skills they need to foster belief and loyalty; nurturing a culture of ‘intrapreneurship’, where ideas and innovation are given room to flourish.
And most of all, bringing senior business leadership along for the ride; because without buy-in at the top, engagement efforts are largely wasted. It should be an easy sell. The best scoring companies in Gallup’s study boasted engagement rates upwards of 70%. It found that the top quartile was 17% more productive than those at the bottom, and 21% more profitable.
This may sound like a momentous task, but by using appropriate software to automate time-stealers like payroll, recruitment, reporting and performance reviews; HR can free up hundreds of hours that can be more valuably spent on higher level strategic issues, such as these.