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Employee Engagement

Via Forbes : Employee Engagement Is A Lagging Indicator Of Culture

I once heard an author describe the “crisis” of disengagement among employees in our workforce as “a disease affecting the central nervous system of our economy.” And he’s right. There are many different measures of employee engagement out there, but pretty much every report I have read presents some pretty depressing numbers.

Gallup is perhaps the most widely cited, and they peg the percentage of truly engaged employees in the U.S. workforce at about 31%. And perhaps even more alarming, nearly 20% are described as “actively disengaged.” Think about that for a minute. Imagine that right now, in your organization, about one out of every five people hates their job/work so much, that they are actively sabotaging your organization. Sounds like a crisis, doesn’t it?

OK, but here’s the part that might surprise you:

Engagement is not the problem.

We spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year in this country trying to fix the engagement problem, but in the last several years, we have failed to move the needle on our overall engagement numbers by more than a percentage point. The reason is simple: Engagement is a result.

When you measure engagement, you are documenting a state of mind among your employees that was created over a period of months or years — in the past. That means that your detailed (and depressing) picture of today’s disengaged workforce, unfortunately, gives you very little you can use to actually solve the problem. If cars start rolling off your assembly line with the steering wheel located in the back seat, you don’t come up with a plan for moving each individual steering wheel to the front seat as it comes off the line — you go back into the manufacturing process, and you fix the problem where it started.

For employee engagement, the solution lies in your culture.

It is your workplace culture that generated your poor engagement results. Period. Your workplace culture defines in no uncertain terms what is truly valued inside your workplace, and what is valued then drives behavior. Over time, those behaviors start to grate on people and sow the seeds of disengagement.

Like the fact that once you discover that a process isn’t working, you know it will take six months to a year to get it fixed, given the propensity for red tape in your organization. Like that every time you want to reach across the hall to work with someone from another department to get things done, you stop — because you know you’ll have to get permission from the boss first. Like the way you get shot down every time you ask to bring in an outside expert to share new ideas with your team because your organization doesn’t respect anything that was “not invented here.”

These building blocks of culture create disengagement because they fundamentally interfere with the success of your employees. The more misaligned your culture is with what drives your success, the more likely you will be to have disengaged employees.

So stop asking people every year if they like their benefits package and then changing the package when the color of the bar next to that question dips into the red. Go back to the “manufacturing” process. Discover what your culture is and how it gets in the way of the success of both your people and the enterprise overall. Then roll up your sleeves and start fine-tuning the alignment of culture and success. When you start fixing those problems, the engagement numbers will start to go up on their own.

Via Forbes : How To Establish A Culture Of Employee Engagement

Because having a successful business is every employer’s dream, companies emphasize employee engagement. With an engaged staff of employees, you lower your risk of turnover, boost customer satisfaction, and increase your company’s overall chance of success. Not to mention, there is a slew of accounting benefits of employee engagement.

I’ve learned that neither you nor your employees can force workplace engagement. It has to be ingrained in your business and within each individual employee. Find out how you can get highly engaged employees below.

5 Ways To Encourage Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is the level of commitment, passion, and loyalty a worker has toward their work and company. The more engaged an employee is, the more work they’ll put forth.

Only 32% of employees in the United States are engaged, according to a Gallup poll. That means over two-thirds of employees nationwide are disengaged with their work.

Picture two employees: One comes into work 10 minutes early each day, is excited to be there, and constantly comes up with and shares ideas for improving operations. The other employee gets to work on time every day, does the bare minimum, and counts the time until they can leave. Which employee is highly engaged?

For a business owner, the answer is simple. You want hard-working employees who are actively engaged with the work they do. You can create a culture of organizational engagement by doing the following.

1. Don’t Skip Onboarding And Training

If an employee doesn’t have a handle on their responsibilities, they won’t be engaged. Instead, they’ll be confused, frustrated, and rushed to catch up, which leads to disengagement.

Employees who can master their workload have a better shot at taking pride in what they do. Workers who are eager to meet their goals are engaged with the company. Onboarding and training new hires are some of the most important steps you can take to ensure employees are engaged at work. One SHRM survey reported that one-third of new hires left their jobs after only six months. You have less than six months to get employees engaged with their position.

With a successful onboarding and training program, employees will learn how to effectively do their job. This is the time they can engage with you and ask questions, offer ideas, and voice concerns.

For most employees, onboarding and training is also the time when they bond with co-workers and develop a connection to the company. Studies have shown that the more friends employees have at work, the more engaged they are. One study found that only 28% of employees with no work friends were engaged, versus 69% with 25 or more friends. Onboarding encourages relationships among employees.

2. Set Company Goals

To run a successful business, you need a business plan with a list of goals you want to accomplish. To engage employees, you need to involve them in reaching business goals.

You should set annual, semi-annual, quarterly, and monthly goals so employees have something to work toward. Reaching goals is something that encourages employee engagement.

Employees want to know how their position fits in with the other positions in the company. And, they want to learn how their work affects your business as a whole. You can set general company goals as well as goals within each department. That way, each employee knows how their work is impacting the departmental and overall success of your business.

3. Acknowledge Employees

Employees don’t automatically become engaged when you give them more praise, thanks, or any other type of acknowledgment. But, employees can quickly become disengaged if they feel like they’re invisible.

Engaged employees have a sense of comfortability and camaraderie with your business. Again, it’s important for employees to know their co-workers and develop friendships with them. But it’s also important to develop a relationship of respect and friendship between employer and employee.

When I say acknowledge employees, I don’t mean give them praise for every little thing they do. I’m talking about things like saying “Hello,” “Have a good night,” or “Thank you.” And when the employee puts in extra effort, acknowledge them.

Your employee engagement management should emphasize acknowledging employees for their hard work. According to Gallup, employees who aren’t recognized are twice as likely to quit.

At Patriot Software, we have TVs that broadcast accomplishments, anniversaries, birthdays, and more. We also acknowledge employees in our monthly newsletter.

4. Focus On Employee Development

There are many reasons job seekers apply for and accept a position, like salary and benefits. But, many workers also want the opportunity to grow their career. One Gallup poll found that 87% of millennials (and 69% of non-millennials) view development as important in their jobs.

Employees want to develop their skills and continue challenging themselves. They don’t want to do monotonous tasks that require minimal effort. Engaged employees constantly use their mind and enhance their skills.

You can focus on employee development in a few different ways. You might add new duties to the employee’s position to prevent boredom, allow room for growth in the position, or offer a job rotation program so employees do different tasks every so often.

Another way you can emphasize employee development is by offering educational assistance. This is a great perk that lets employees further their education. It shows employees that you value their career growth, and it also allows you to add new skills to your business.

5. Don’t Micromanage

If employees are told exactly what to do and how to do it, they won’t have the time or motivation to engage with the work. They’ll be more like robots. Employees can’t be engaged if they don’t have freedom in how to do their jobs.

Micromanaging can be damaging to your business. One business found that micromanaging resulted in 68% of employees saying their morale was dampened and 55% saying it led to a decrease in productivity. Lost morale and productivity leads to actively disengaged workers.

I don’t like micromanaging at Patriot Software, and my managers don’t like it, either. We encourage employees to work on their own, come up with their own ideas, and bring those ideas to the table. If we are watching over their shoulder every step of the way, employees wouldn’t have the freedom to develop their own ways to problem solve and engage with the work.

Instead of micromanaging, I let each employee make decisions about how to accomplish their work. This leads to higher levels of engagement. And, employees know they can reach out to their managers (or me) if they ever have any questions.

Start by looking at the big picture. Leave the details up to your employees, and you’ll end up with workers happy to put their own methods and ideas into action.

Via Business Matters : Tips from the Pros: How to Boost Employee Engagement

We asked Vasco de Castro, Business Development Director at Fruitful Office, for his tips to increase employee engagement. Here’s what he said…

Employee engagement is one of those nebulous topics that can be difficult, as a business leader, to truly get your head around. For one, employee engagement is not the same as employee happiness. An employee could be happy at work because they are being paid over the odds for doing very little work. That is not an engaged employee. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Employee engagement is the emotional attachment they feel towards their place of work, their colleagues, their position in the company and the company’s culture. This positive emotional attachment has a knock-on effect on productivity and well-being, which can help to bring overall business success. That is why many employers view an engaged workforce as a competitive advantage.

While a competitive advantage can, in some respects, be relatively easily achieved, i.e. by investing in the latest machinery or technology, increasing employee engagement is much more difficult. Employers often use any number of measures and initiatives to boost employee engagement, often without much success.

Putting theory into practice

Survey after survey has found employee engagement is not something British businesses do particularly well, so we spoke to someone who has achieved high levels of employee engagement over the last ten years. Vasco de Castro is the co-founder and Business Development Director at office fruit provider Fruitful Office, a company that delivers fresh office fruit to over 5,000 companies every week in five different countries. These are his three top tips for boosting employee engagement…

1. Hire the right staff in the first place

When a business is growing rapidly you can find yourself recruiting for new positions every couple of weeks. During this time, the temptation can be to cut corners and just get people on board to fulfil the orders. However, it’s these early hires that can go on to dictate the culture of the company, so it’s extremely important to be careful about who you pick.

As de Castro says: “Surrounding yourself with the right people and ensuring they share your passion and vision is key”. Rather than cherry picking the very best candidates, some businesses ‘panic buy’ new employees, only for this short-termism to come back to haunt them.

2. Empower your team

Employees who are able to see how their efforts directly impact the success of the business will feel more empowered to work hard, come up with new ideas and keep the business moving forward. To do this, employees need to be given the tools to really make a difference.

At Fruitful Office: “The company’s culture is very entrepreneurial, which means that people are empowered to make suggestions and take action. Making a difference is incredibly motivating and rewarding”.

3. Give employees ownership

Employees respond well when they are given ‘ownership’ of a project. In fact, research has found that the feeling of ownership, i.e. being solely responsible for a process or task, is actually more of a motivating factor than having a share option in the company.

Psychological ownership is defined as the extent an employee feels their organisation is theirs and that it forms an important part of their self-identity. As de Castro explains: “Feeling a sense of ownership must be present right throughout the business – from packers to senior management”. The most effective way to increase this sense of ownership is to trust employees and give them more responsibility.

Via Forbes : Engage Your Front Line To Increase Your Bottom Line

Your frontline employees, like your sales associates, technicians and customer service reps, often know what’s wrong in your company before you do. They can tell you what delights customers and what frustrates them and, perhaps more importantly, they can tell you “why.” They can tell you why some customers are buying more of your services, while others are returning products, canceling contracts, and taking their business elsewhere.

The problem is that many companies aren’t listening.

Engagement, loyalty, and the bottom line

Fred Reichheld, creator of the well-known Net Promoter System, says companies “can’t earn the loyalty of customers without first generating enthusiastic engagement and loyalty from employees, especially frontline employees.” The evidence bears this out. When the Medallia Institute compared employee engagement and customer loyalty across more than 130 retail outlets, we found that stores with more engaged employees, measured by the likelihood that they would recommend the store as a place to work, had customer loyalty ratings that were 12 percent higher than stores with less engaged employees. Stores with high employee engagement also achieved greater increases in customer loyalty year-over-year, while stores with low employee engagement saw loyalty drop.

A five percent increase in customer loyalty can increase a company’s profitability by 25 to 95 percent, according to Bain & Company. That’s a nice boost to your bottom line.

The unique, untapped value of frontline employees

To increase customer loyalty, companies often turn to market research firms and expensive analytics to determine what their customers like and dislike. Market research and fancy algorithms might be able to tell you how satisfied your customers are, but they rarely tell you how to change your operations to make things better. Fortunately, your frontline employees can.

To understand why, and what creates greater customer-centric engagement at the front line, we surveyed 1,000 customer-facing employees across five U.S. industries—automotive, banking and financial services, retail, telecommunication services, and travel and hospitality.

While 78 percent of employees surveyed said their leaders had made customer experience a top corporate priority, nearly 60 percent also said their ideas for improving the experience often went unheard. These included ideas for delighting customers in new ways (61 percent), improving processes or practices to enhance the customer experience (56 percent), or providing better training so that employees could serve customers more effectively (47 percent).

As in most things, the devil is in the details. Many executives know they ought to be engaging their front line more effectively, but how? Our research suggests that the secret to enthusiastic, customer-centric engagement is empowering frontline employees to make a difference, which starts with listening to them. Based on our survey, we offer four practices that can help you find the way to happier customers through the voice of your employees.

1. Solicit feedback regularly. In our study, 51 percent of frontline employees said they had suggestions for improving customer satisfaction at least quarterly, and 22 percent said they had feedback to share weekly or even daily. Yet nearly 20 percent said their companies never asked for their thoughts on improving customer service, and a third said they were asked for their opinions once a year or less. Thirty years of research have shown that employees are highly accurate in their assessments of customer satisfaction and the quality of their company’s service delivery. If you give them more opportunities to share their insights and suggestions, you’ll be far better equipped to understand and respond to your customers.

2. Ask the right questions. Even when companies do ask frontline employees for feedback, they often ask about inconsequential things that have little impact on the business. Less than half of the employees we surveyed (46 percent) said their companies asked the “right” questions when asking for feedback. Instead, employers tend to ask generic, often irrelevant, questions that offer little opportunity to provide meaningful input. The best way to solicit feedback from employees is to ask questions about relevant, actionable topics that are central to their ability to deliver a great customer experience.

3. Communicate before and after. Only three out of five frontline employees said their company shared the results of employee surveys, and only half said the company informed them about actions taken in response to the feedback. When companies fail to keep employees informed about what they’re doing in response to feedback, employees stop providing their input. If you think your ideas go into a black hole, why bother to give them? This not only diminishes the quality of feedback loops, it also slows learning. Knowing which suggestions are being acted on allows employees to track the ideas that are implemented, assess their impact, and calibrate accordingly, thereby improving future suggestions.

4. Take action. Perhaps the worst thing you can do is ask employees for input and then do nothing with it. But that’s precisely what many companies do. Thirty-three percent of the people we surveyed said their company never took action on employee feedback and another 24 percent said it acted once a year or less. Perhaps most surprising: Less than half of frontline employees said they could count on their leaders to remove obstacles to delighting customers.

A poorly managed employee feedback system can be more detrimental than having no system at all: It sends a strong signal that employee suggestions are not valued and that management is only paying lip service to creating a great customer experience. If management doesn’t care about improving customer service, why should employees?

On the flip side, if you ask your employees for ideas to improve the customer experience, make use of the best suggestions, and communicate what actions you’re taking and why, your efforts will go a long way toward increasing customer-centric engagement among employees, and also dramatically improve your ability to deliver a great customer experience.

A recent Gallup review found that business units in the top quartile of employee engagement had 10% higher customer loyalty and 20% higher sales than those in the bottom quartile. Our results suggest that listening and acting on feedback from your front line is a great place to start building engagement, loyalty, and your bottom line.

Via Huffington Post : 10 Reasons Employee Engagement Matters

When your employees are so emotionally invested in your company that they’ll do everything in their power to help it succeed, you’ve achieved the illustrious “employee engagement.” But how important is it to contributing to your success? In a word, very. Let’s just say your company’s productivity, customer happiness, and even profitability is at stake. Here are 10 ways employee engagement matters.

1. Increase in profitability. Your bottom line is always top of mind. A critical factor in shoring that up is investing in employment engagement strategies. A fully engaged workforce will outperform a disengaged workforce any day. Numerous research studies back this assertion. For example, a recent Gallup study revealed that companies with engaged workforces have higher earnings per share and recovered at a faster rate from the recession.

2. Improved retention rates. It’s common sense that employees who are most engaged are less likely to leave their jobs and search for new ones. In fact, research shows that engaged employees have lower turnover rates than their disengaged peers. And increased retention rates lead to lower recruiting and hiring costs, which helps boost morale.

3. Boost in workplace happiness. Only 12 percent of employees leave for a new job solely because they’re chasing a fatter paycheck. Many employees are seeking recognition for their efforts and contributions—not necessarily a raise—and are a lot more satisfied working for companies that emphasize timely feedback and praise. Happy employees lead to increased productivity and improved morale.

4. Higher levels of productivity. A Gallup poll analyzing more than 1 million employees found that teams with highly engaged employees outperformed similar teams with disengaged employees. In addition, companies with engaged employees outperform those with lower engagement levels by up to 202 percent, according to a Dale Carnegie study.

5. More innovation. Employees who are engaged are more open to innovative ideas and new tools. They’re thinking about ways to enhance the work they do, rather than just performing the bare minimum required. This attitude is a prerequisite for innovation.

6. Connected employees. Companies voted “Best Places to Work” tend to value and foster connections among their teams. In doing so, these companies are “meeting the more altruistic and basic human needs of feeling connected and being an important part in something bigger,” says Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith, senior vice president of research at PageUp People, a company that provides HR professionals with a cloud-based, talent management system. A connected culture encourages communication and leads to an increase in productivity. In many cases, connected employees will choose to spend their after-work hours with co-workers, increasing company loyalty.

7. Better communication. Employees who are engaged are more likely to communicate openly with their colleagues than those who are disengaged.

8. More collaboration. Employees who communicate are more likely to collaborate. Collaboration leads to a reduced workload for overburdened teams and can diffuse and decrease conflict. Thanks to the Internet of Things, cloud technology, and apps like Buffer and Slack, team collaboration much is easier. Daniel Newman, principal analyst of Futurum Research and CEO of Broadsuite Media Group believes, “Predictive devices catch mistakes, offer intelligent advice, and take the struggle out of collaboration efforts.”

9. Commitment to the company. Employees who are engaged are more likely to remain committed to their company, even during difficult times or busy periods. This often helps with continuity and efficiency, not to mention building a stronger employer brand.

10. Improved recruitment rates. A workplace known for its engaged workforce will attract highly productive employees who will be as engaged as your current team. Not to mention that happy, connected employees are far more likely to recommend their employer to friends and acquaintances.

For these 10 reasons and more, employee engagement is perhaps the most critical ingredient to achieving your company’s top goals. It’s in your best interest to invest in your employees because they’ll become invested in your company’s success—and that’s a sure way to boost your company’s bottom line.