In recent years, there has been a decline in employee engagement. Research indicates that low engagement levels not only affect performance, they also result in increased employee turnover, lower customer satisfaction, and increased absenteeism. In today's competitive business environment, employers need to better engage employees for their organizations to succeed.
Identifying Engagement Levels
There are three levels of employee engagement in the workplace: the actively engaged, the disengaged, and actively disengaged. Actively engaged workers demonstrate high levels of performance, a drive for innovation and efficiency, commitment to their roles and to the organization as a whole, and high-energy enthusiasm. Disengaged workers view their jobs as an exchange of time for a paycheck. They complete their tasks, but they do so unenthusiastically and put in little to no additional effort. Actively disengaged workers are damaging to the workplace. They are actively negative and voice their displeasure in the work place. Their negativity permeates the job place and often undermines the performance of other employees. Recent research by Towers-Watson indicated that only about 15 percent of employees are actively engaged, 65-70 percent are moderately engaged, and 15 percent are actively disengaged.
How to Increase Engagement
Engagement at all levels is vital to an organization’s livelihood and success. The cost of low employee engagement can be high. According to the Gallup organization, the cost for keeping actively disengaged workers over a five-year period was approximately $300 billion in lost productivity and employee performance. Organization leaders should note this and aim for improvement.
There are four steps that can be taken to improve engagement levels within your organization:
- Know what drives engagement.
- Get senior leader buy-in.
- Communicate with employees.
- Act on the results.
First, it is important to know what drives engagement so that steps can be taken to nurture those forces. Several components that drive engagement include: involvement in decision making, a comfortable environment where employees feel free to voice their opinions, job development opportunities, and an organization’s concern for the overall well-being of its employees. After these factors have been identified, senior leaders need to become educated on the topic and buy-in to the need for increased engagement. Also, it is very important to make all members of the organization aware of the steps being taken to assess engagement and the plans being made for improvement. Once these steps have been identified and communicated, it is mandatory that actions are taken to improve engagement levels.
To learn more about employee engagement, view the UNC Executive Development white paper "Focusing on Employee Engagement: How to Measure and Improve it":
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