Employee engagement is something of a buzzword. While at the senior management level goals like business development tend to come out top, employee engagement is consistently coming out as one of the top overall goals for middle managers who tend to be responsible for the implementation of those higher level goals.
It makes sense that engaged employees are more likely to successfully implement goals like business development. However, it’s quite a hard thing to pin down exactly what an engaged employee is versus an unengaged one.
In Gallup’s annual survey of 150,000 workers they define engagement as being ‘deeply involved and enthusiastic about their work and contributing towards their organisation’ which is probably as good a definition of engagement as you’ll find. Worryingly their survey found that only 36% of managers feel this way.
There are many things that cause lack of engagement. The most obvious is a lack of motivation caused by not relating to the company’s goals or values. This can be further affected if the employee feels that the work they do is not important or if the role that they have does not meaningfully contribute.
Poor relationships also take their toll. Lack of respect for superiors or low team morale have an adverse effect on engagement. Sometimes these problems have deep rooted causes but often people in organisations just do not have the time or support to deal with basic issues that stand in the way of better relationships.
Many engagement issues can be addressed through training; increasing a workforce’s skill sets so that it can better deal with problems and feel more effective. Soft skills also increase engagement by helping people to address issues which may be standing between them and a more meaningful experience of their work.
There is a requirement for business to invest in its workforce. This means invest money but also invest time; to take issues such as employee engagement seriously. This is something that needs to be addressed at the highest level, where issues such as business development may seem more important but where it must be recognised that business is developed by people.
What is abundantly clear is that 36% is a woefully inadequate figure for employee engagement.