Employee engagement is one, if not the most critical, metric for organizations in the twenty-first century. Customer satisfaction, innovation, profitability and productivity are all outcomes generated by energized, engaged employees.
According to a 2008 BlessingWhite study, North America has one of the highest proportions of disengaged employees worldwide; fewer than 1 in 3 employees (29 percent) are fully engaged and 19 percent are actually disengaged. This study took place in 2008; one can only imagine the increased disengagement in 2009 when the economy plummeted and so many workers were out-placed.
On the other hand, engaged employees are enthusiastic about their contribution to the company, to their teams and to overall business success. They stay working because they feel valued for what they give and not just for the pay check they receive. Gallop reported that businesses in the top 24 percent of employee engagement had less turnover and remarkably higher percentages of customer loyalty, profitability and revenues.
But in these tough economic times, how do companies keep engagement high when there is no money for bonus checks, parties or family events?
This past spring, Right Management held a town hall meeting with business partners from Grand Rapids and Detroit on the topic of engagement. Small groups had rich discussions about how to define employee engagement and what to do about increasing engagement with simple and low cost methods. Some of the suggestions include:
* Provide constant updates about the progress of change through such methods as pod casts, town hall meetings, or lunch forums with senior managers.
* Actively listen and acknowledge complaints; recognize that people often have reasonable and valid complaints.
* Write about the accomplishments of your employees in newsletters or other forms of internal communication.
* Consider acts of celebration that would be meaningful to your employees. Sometimes it is enough to just find moments to stop and savor someone's success in a quiet conversation or during a staff meeting.
* Ask a team to identify projects that will be...