Fueling Productivity through Employee Engagement

Sarah Van Allen of Gallup, Inc. says, “To win customers—and a bigger share of the marketplace—companies must first win the hearts and minds of their employees.” Sarah is correct.

Long gone (or should be) the days when employees were treated as “things”—useful only for specific tasks and considered to be easily replaced. This “assembly line” mentality is no longer the norm. Employees demand more from their employers and must get more to stay engaged.

A 2012 Gallup survey of over 49,000 business or work units including 1.4 million employees in 192 organizations, across 49 industries, and in 34 countries—makes it clear that employee engagement is an important competitive differentiator for organizations. If you don’t like your employees or they don’t like you, you’ve got a serious problem that will impact your bottom line.

And if employers think their internal issues are kept inside the company, think again. Today, social media quickly exposes both good and bad employers. With a tweet, blog, Facebook or LinkedIn update, YouTube, and you name it—bad employers can “burn” more quickly than an ignited match.

According to Gallup research, employee engagement affects nine performance outcomes. They found that the top performing 25 percent of organizations share these qualities:

  • 37% lower absenteeism
  • 25% lower turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
  • 65% lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
  • 28% less shrinkage
  • 498% fewer safety incidents
  • 41% fewer patient safety incidents
  • 41% fewer quality incidents (defects)
  • 10% higher customer metrics
  • 21% higher productivity
  • 22% higher profitability

If your organization is not a top performer, here are some suggestions on how to engage your employees for maximum performance and productivity:

  • Managers must develop a strong relationship with their employees.
  • Managers must communicate clearly with their staff.
  • Managers must provide employees with work that matches their skill set.
  • Employees that have strong co-worker relationships are more engaged.
  • Employees that collaborate with their co-workers to take risks and achieve stretch goals are more engaged.
  • Managers must provide their staff with opportunities to learn and grow.

In other words, managers are the key to whether employees are engaged or disengaged. Great managers engage their employees’ by encouraging them to use their talents instead of trying to change them. If an employee is not a good fit in one area, great managers don’t automatically dismiss them; they find them work that is a good fit.

Great managers need to ask their employees what they want and what they need to be effective in their roles. Great managers develop their employees around their strengths.

Whether a company thrives, survives, or suffers is directly affected by how it engages its employees. Surveys have consistently shown that employee engagement affects key performance outcomes, regardless of the organization, industry, or country.

What will you do today to engage your employees for maximum performance?