Human Resources managers, and most management teams, understand the value of strongly engaged employees. It means more productive, more competitive and more resilient organisations. While its importance is easy to acknowledge, making engagement happen is a more complex challenge. Many organisations have not developed managers that know how to effectively grow and sustain employee engagement.
So how do you improve employee engagement and create people who are connected and committed to the business? There are no quick fixes. Models, incentives, surveys, measurement and other tools may help, but they’re not what it is about. If there is a secret to building employee engagement, it is this: Everything begins and ends with management. Acquiring the leadership skills to improve employee engagement takes time and management effort. Without management focus and commitment, it won’t happen.
A highly productive step in improving employee engagement is to first explore what your managers are doing to disengage staff. Management ‘mistakes’ have a seriously negative impact on engagement, and consequently productivity. Poorly handled communication is a good example, such as middle level and front line managers who filter communication coming from senior management rather than boosting it. That is, rather than intensifying or stepping up the signal coming from senior management, they have a tendency to filter out key messages. This is made worse when managers inadvertently promote a ‘we/they’ environment, in which a wedge is driven between senior management and employees, trivialising or demeaning organisational purpose and objectives. Senior management is a ‘rock’ that all employees need to believe in.
Whilst your managers should always be developing their team (and we don’t mean just ensuring they have the right training), empowerment is a great tool for increasing their engagement. When effective managers are providing a clear and appropriate scope to act, people feel connected and committed to the organisation, which is the essence of employee engagement.
Engaged employees will exceed expectations and increase productivity levels because they want to, not because they have to. Creating a work culture and environment that focuses on employee engagement benefits the individual as well as the entire organisation.