HR Management

So Much Depends on Employee Engagement

Yesterday we heard from Gallup concerning employee engagement and from a recent book by Jim Harter, PhD, titled First, Break All the Rules. Today, we present how to use your strengths to translate engagement into success.

  1. Knowing your strengths is a large piece of the engagement puzzle according to Gallup. How can managers better identify and develop their employee’s strengths?

A strengths-based approach to management entails identifying the natural capacity of each person you manage and adding knowledge, skills, and experiences that build on that natural capacity to create strengths.  Even in achieving similar outcomes, people are wired in unique ways and can achieve the same outcomes through their own unique paths.

A less efficient approach would assume that each person must follow the same steps to achieve the same outcomes, assuming that what drives one person to perform is the same as the other.  For example, one person might be driven by competition and another through a sense of mission.  One might get work done through adaptability while another gets work done through intense focus.  Understanding what motivates each person, as a foundation, provides greater efficiency in adding the right knowledge, skills, and experiences to reach the desired performance outcomes.

  1. What is it specifically about engagement that translates to better results for the company? Why is it better to have an engaged workforce than a talented but disengaged workforce?

Disengaged talent is more likely to leave your workplace or will produce suboptimum results.  When employees know what’s expected in their role, have what they need to do their job, are able to do what they do best, get recognized for good work, can see a clear development path, and know they are a contributing part of the larger organization’s cause, they are more likely to show up to work regularly, stay with the organization longer, serve customers better, be vigilant in building a safe work environment, produce more, and have higher quality of work.

Having more such employees on a team leads to higher team profit.   Successful organizations have a critical mass of high functioning teams that do things well both independently and interdependently.  Engaged employees look out for a company’s best interest and can be thought of as psychological “owners” who are resilient during tough times and maximize performance during good times.

  1. Does your research show a trend in companies and managers putting more resources behind employee engagement? What is at stake if disengagement continues at its current rate?

Certainly, over the past decade, there has been an uptick in the number of engagement surveys in organizations.  But, except for some select organizations, organizations aren’t putting the right resources behind their engagement efforts.  Engagement can’t be thought of as an annual survey “event.”  It is a process that should be an ongoing and integral part of performance management.

While an annual survey can be an important part of the process, there is much more.  It needs to be aligned with the strategy of the organization, well-communicated, part of accountability systems and the expectations of managing people, and integral in ongoing development programs.

This is what the new generations of workers are expecting.  What’s at risk is a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining top talent, higher productivity and profit, and eventually—to the economy—job growth.