The most important thing to remember about employee engagement is that it is an emotion that drives employees to want to achieve more for the organization where they work. Now a lot of business leaders don’t like dealing with employee emotions and that is what makes it difficult. Wall street and corporate America knows that they must capture the hearts of their customers to achieve repeat business. Do you remember the Coke commercial with a diverse group singing in harmony? Do you remember the various Nike commercials with sports success as an emotional theme? Yet such campaigns to capture the hearts and minds of our employees is viewed as being a frivolous business strategy.
Quint Studer was making a key statement about employee emotions when he refers to the concept of “connecting to purpose”. Without a connection to purpose it is just work and there is no emotion to drive employees to achieve excellence for the patient, the customer and the organization.
There are three key factors to improving employee engagement. Communication, leader accountability for results and creating a culture of employee participation in making the organization the best it can be.
Communication is one of the keys to getting improved employee engagement. Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves. The fans of great sports teams always “brag” about how “we” beat this team or that team. At work, does your team talk about how much better they are than the competition? Or do they talk about how bad things are where they work. Great teams have lots of pride about what they do, how they are the best and how they do so much better than the other guys. Just like great sports teams, employees need to feel like they work for a great organization and they contribute to the outcomes of greatness. In order for employees to feel they are part of this greatness, the organization must be communicated how great “we are” and how “the employees make this happen”.
Too many leaders talk about how bad things are, and how hard it is to make budget, how many mistakes we make, etc.. Generally, there is too little talk about the accomplishments, the high performance of our staff, their caring attitude and how we cannot survive without these great people. We must communicate to our staff how great they are and build their self-image. One thing I have learned through over 30 years of HR Experience: Employees who feel worthwhile will always outperform those who feel unworthy. If you don’t think your team is great, get rid of them and get a great team (I have never been an advocate of keeping low performers). But, keep in mind, great organizations need great leaders, and great leaders are able to grow and support great teams. Teams that have great leaders will bring great results.
Leader accountability: Leaders must be held accountable for their department, unit, division, result that they have oversight for… In other words, RESULTS for financials, quality, growth, customer service and EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT. They must be held accountable for result for their area of responsibility. If the various pieces of the house: walls, foundation, floors, doors, etc. are not well constructed how can we expect to have a great home? Every department must focus on engagement for their team.
Employee participation. Have you heard the statement “people support the decisions they helped to make”? I think most people would agree that organizations that empower staff to make improvements to their jobs get better organizational results. Many performance improvement programs such as Lean, are built on the concept that employee participation is key to achieving lower cost, higher quality and better outcomes, and yes greater employee engagement… Why? Because I am proud of my contributions that create better outcomes for myself, my team and the organization.
“Imagine the personal and organizational cost of failing to fully engage the passion, talent and intelligence of the workforce. It is far greater than all taxes, interest charges, and labor costs put together.” STEPHEN R. COVEY