Maximising the value of engagement

The potential for maximising the ROI of higher engagement levels is enormous:

> Disengagement potentially causes 64% more accidents at work

> The estimated cost of absenteeism is around $225.8 billion/year in the USA alone

> Dissatisfaction causes higher employee and customer turnover

Given that it can cost 6-9 months of a person’s salary to replace them, plus the upheaval caused in a team every time someone leaves and has to be replaced, reducing employee turnover already seems to justify the implementation of a far-reaching engagement policy. The figures speak for themselves, especially as recent studies have not shown any marked improvements in engagement. Indeed, according to a Haiilo study , worldwide only around 20% of all employees would currently describe themselves as engaged, which means that there is huge scope for improvement.

The hidden cost of poor engagement

In many cases, however, there are other factors which are difficult to measure and yet have a detrimental effect on organisations. For example, an unenthusiastic employee who will not enrol in training sessions to widen the scope of their competencies, is unlikely to embrace change and may even actively undermine attempts to update working practices. In contrast, an engaged employee will gladly play the role of an unofficial ambassador for the organisation and is more likely to suggest changes to current work practices in order to improve processes and performance levels.

Poor engagement levels can also have a negative impact on overall well-being, especially if employees do not believe that their organisation and/or managers care about them. The mere sensation of being under pressure and stressed can impair engagement, especially as nowadays most employees expect a certain degree of empathy and personal attention from their managers. Indeed, the social health factor is becoming increasingly important, as researchers note the correlation between higher levels of creativity, resilience and self-confidence and a work culture which encourages well-being at work.

Showing appreciation at work

Appreciation does not need to be expressed in monetary terms; frequently overt recognition will already encourage an employee to “keep up the good work”. It is important to note that using promotions as a sure-fire tool to express appreciation should be avoided. Just because someone is a good engineer does not automatically make them a good manager – unless they receive adequate training and actually embrace the role. Listening to employees is also a form of appreciation as it can play a major factor in defining future career paths and new challenges, which suit both the organisation and the people concerned. It is vital to identify talent and then interact with them to ascertain where they see themselves in the short, medium, and long-term; especially as by charting this type of path within the organisation you are creating a stronger sense of meaning and belonging, both of which are key factors in engagement. The explains why so many large organisations have set up talent programs, which can also provide the means to tackle issues linked to gender parity and equal opportunities.

Higher engagement levels result in higher productivity

As noted in a recent article published by Octanner , 69% of employees admit that they would work harder if they felt more appreciated and 71% of executives agree that there is a crucial link between engagement and their company’s performance. In this context, it becomes apparent that there is a real need for improved two-way internal communication to accompany every engagement strategy. As already observed by Forbes , “Employees who feel heard are more likely to feel empowered and perform better at work”. This underlines the need to collect regular feedback and listen to what your employees are saying. One annual appraisal meeting does not tick this box! It is far more a question of setting up concrete ways to gather feedback regularly and then react to it.

Already popular in the field of change management, additional measures such as the setting up of ambassador networks and practise groups may also be of interest, as they support this need for two-way communication. But it is above all important that managers and team leaders understand that authentic and coherent communication constitutes part of their daily tasks. By showing their staff that their opinions matter, they also create a more solid trust base.

Employees are every company’s most important asset. Today more than ever they want to feel appreciated and be part of a meaningful environment guided by values they can identify with. This is why, as already observed by Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup, “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace”.

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