Addressing the Global Engagement Crisis
In our last blog post, we discussed the world-wide crisis in employee engagement that is impacting businesses and organizations on a global scale. According to industry leaders, the problem of employee disengagement is widespread and growing. Employers need to take some aggressive actions to reverse this trend. This is a complex and multi-layered issue. So where do we start?
Employee Engagement – the Traditional View
An astute place to begin would be the definition of employee engagement itself. The word “engagement” is a somewhat old-style term used by human resources managers. It typically refers to an employee’s willingness to exert discretionary effort and is generally measured through an annual survey. This concept worked in an era in which employees clocked in and clocked out and usually performed routine and repetitive tasks. An employee’s willingness to “go the extra mile’ was considered a sign of positive engagement. But this is a different era and we need a totally new understanding of employee engagement.
Taking a Deeper Look
We need to gain a more profound understanding of employee engagement in the light of the massive societal changes that are impacting today’s workers. Globalization, technological advances, diversification, and changing demographics are but a few of the pressures driving today’s worker. We have to fully understand the demands placed on our employees and cultivate an environment in which they can both grow and thrive. And one of the more intense drivers is work/life balance.
Readjusting Our Mindset
Traditional top-down management styles dictated that managers should avoid showing their humanity to prevent losing power and control over their employees. In today’s world, nothing could be further from the truth. Managers need to develop a completely new mindset in dealing with their employees as human beings with wants, needs, desires, fears, and hopes. This is particularly true in finding the right work/life balance for workers. Employees not only want meaningful and positive workplace experiences; they want their leaders to understand their need to have a healthy, well-balanced life outside of the workplace. Managers need to create the atmosphere that embraces and affirms the human side of workers.
RX for Employee Disengagement
Here are some suggestions for creating a workplace culture in which employees not only become engaged, but actually grow and thrive:
Be willing to invest in your leadership. They set the tone and atmosphere of the organization and it will be critical for them to develop worker/manager relationships built on mutual respect and trust.
Ensure that the work being requested to perform is meaningful and purposeful in that it totally embodies your organization’s mission and goals. Encourage your employees to be creative, innovative and willing to take risks.
Pay attention to your employees work/life balance. Be mindful of their need for time off, flex time, reasonable hours, and family responsibilities.
Do everything in your power to create an inclusionary workplace. Make diversity one of your key goals and ensure everyone receives fair and equitable treatment.
Be generous with your training, coaching, and career development initiatives. If employees feel you value them and believe in their potential, they will more than likely exceed your expectations.
Don’t forget to have fun. Companies that play together usually stay together. Take time out to let your employees enjoy themselves and each other. Inject humor wherever you can in the workplace. Humor is the great unifier!
Be Sure to Recognize
Finally, make certain you are constantly thanking your employees for their dedication, positive behaviors, and achievements. Look for opportunities to celebrate their successes and publically recognize them whenever and wherever you can. Having a rich array of rewards and gifts won’t hurt either. Whatever you do, just be sure you are generating passion, engagement, and commitment within your workforce. Everything else will take care of itself.