A recent column in Forbes focused on how the best places to work are “nailing” employee engagement, citing things like understanding what employees are thinking; creating an intentional culture; and committing to open, honest communication as important steps to take to engage employees. Denise Federer, Ph.D., founder of FPMG (http://federerperformance.com/), a performance management firm, could not agree more.
“Surely you’ve heard CEOs say something to the effect of ‘our greatest asset is our people,’” Federer says. “That may sound clichéd, but it contains a good deal of truth, since companies with engaged employees are more likely to be successful than those with the other two employee types: not engaged and disengaged.”
FPMG believes leaders can have a significant role in developing and nurturing employee engagement, which is defined as “the extent to which employees commit to something or someone in their organization, how hard they work, and how long they stay as a result of that commitment.” No leader wants to see “loyal” employees leave, especially if significant time and resources have been invested in grooming them for future leadership roles; those who are shocked when that happens either aren’t aware of what’s going on or they’ve misread cues from these employees.
Federer notes that a recent study by Dale Carnegie and Associates found seven of 10 employees aren’t fully engaged, making it even more imperative to create a culture that proactively promotes employee engagement. She says that starts with ensuring employees understand how vital their jobs are to the company’s success, and adhering to the following three key behaviors:
Confirm. Ensure the company mission statement guides employees with respect to the behavioral style, work ethic, and priorities expected from them, and confirm it’s relevant to current business goals.
Assess. Determine what factors influence employee engagement by assessing team members, making changes to motive and reenergize those who are no longer engaged and ensuring the culture encourages valued employees to thrive and achieve their professional goals.
Communicate. Engage in frequent, transparent communication with members of the team, ensuring productive conversations take place by using the key behavioral principles of making no assumptions, managing expectations, and breaking down complex behavior.
PMG says it can’t be understated how important for management to be on the same page as employees to eliminate declining enthusiasm and surprise departures. This includes knowing what’s important to employees and whether they’re currently engaged (making no assumptions); providing predictability, consistency, and accountability with respect to personnel decisions (managing expectations); and defining what good client service experiences look like (breaking down complex behavior).
“You can rest assured that the effort you put into fostering employee engagement will result in significant ROI, and could even be critical to your company’s sustainability,” Federer said. “Engaged employees certainly can be your greatest asset, serving as community ambassadors and having a positive influence on your company’s reputation and bottom line.”