Employee engagement is crucial to a company’s culture and results, and when it comes to improving it communication is king.
Engagement is a buzzword, says Employee Engagement Network founder David Zinger (pictured). What we’re really looking for is connection.
“Connection to results, connection to the organization, connection to others; the flip side of connect is disconnect, the strength of those connections are vital for the financial results of the firm and for the well-being of the employee,” Zinger says. “If people are disconnected from results the organization can languish and die, and if people are disconnected from each other we miss that social element of work and if we’re disconnected from the organization then that’s a heck of a place to spend forty hours a week.
“People are loaded to the max. I had a gentleman tell me ‘We used to do more with less, now we do everything with nothing.’ Engagement can’t be an extra – ultimately it gets woven into the work environment,” Zinger says.
Two-way communication is key. Employees shouldn’t feel that disconnection is a “punishable offense”; instead they should be able to talk to their managers about how to solve it. Daily conversations with managers about expectations and results also helped keep employees on target and connected to their results.
Another common mistake is attempting to roll out large-scale programs that are over-ambitious and seem to workers like a new trend that will soon fall to the wayside.
“I encourage program pilots – try out a study, take some measures and if it catches on maybe you scale up but don’t roll out something huge,” Zinger says.
According to a recent report, 60% of employees are not engaged, and 15% are actively disengaged at work and only 25% are actively engaged.
These types of numbers can be misleading, because engagement can vary throughout the day. More studies are looking at the “locus of engagement”, tracking what tasks and which people are encouraging that connection.
“I would like to see more data where it’s real time. What’s engaging you each day, who’s engaging you each day, who are you engaging?” Zinger says. “Each employee is responsible for their own engagement, no one should take that away, but we’re all accountable to each other on the impact we have on engagement.”