Most employees are not engaged at work—70% according to Gallup. This is no new trend. The combined number of unengaged and actively disengaged employees remains high from year to year. Poor engagement results in less productivity, less creativity, higher absenteeism, and higher turnover.
"You can’t force an employee to be engaged—engagement is ultimately their choice. But you can create working conditions that inspire and empower employees to make that choice."
Employee engagement is basically a measure of your employees’ commitment to their work and the success of your organization. Think of it as their work ethic within your company. It includes their emotional investment in the work they do for you, but it’s not simply an emotional state. You might have employees who are grumpy and frustrated, yet strive to do their best work and make a difference.
Fortunately, low engagement isn’t inevitable. Some companies have great employee engagement. Their employees consciously and consistently work for the good of their organization. They’re committed, innovative, and driven to help their coworkers and organization thrive.
You can’t force an employee to be engaged—engagement is ultimately their choice. But you can create working conditions that inspire and empower employees to make that choice. What you want is an engaging culture—a workplace culture that prompts and rewards engagement.
Here’s how you create it:
- Define the specific purpose of your organization. What do you do? What’s your style? How are you different from the competition? Employees can’t be engaged unless they have something to be engaged in. Engagement needs direction, focus. And employees need to know how their role contributes to the organization’s purpose.
- Commit to the success of your employees. If you want employees to work for your organization’s success, you must work for theirs. Coach them. Train them. Help them develop their skills and abilities. They’ll see that you care about their present and future success, and they’ll know that you trust them. And knowing you’re committed to them, they’ll be more committed to you.
- Recognize employees who go above and beyond. In a culture of engagement, just getting the job done isn’t enough. Encourage extra effort by rewarding it. Formal recognition programs are a great way to do this. And by recognizing employees for their efforts, you show them that their work is valued and meaningful.
- Encourage criticism, feedback, and innovation. Every organization could use improvement. Solicit your employees’ ideas. Be open to their suggestions. By giving your employees a say in the organization’s operations and working conditions, you provide them with a sense of ownership. Policies, procedures, and practices shouldn’t all be dictated from above.
- Allow for a healthy work-life balance. Your employees have other commitment they need to attend to. Give them the time to see to those commitments and have a life outside of work, and you’ll get more from them when they’re on the job.