The BeginningIn the late 60’s and early 70’s, the concept of “job satisfaction” was established, studied, and developed by a multitude of academics. As time passed, the idea solidified as having a job that fulfilled a person’s basic needs while simultaneously acting as a source of enjoyment or positive emotion. However, executives quickly discovered that monetary gain and positive feelings towards one’s place of work, peppered with ping pong tables and bean bag chairs, was not enough to retain their best employees and keep them highly productive.
Employee EngagementBuilt upon the premise of providing “gratifying” work in exchange for productive and loyal personnel, employee engagement evolved as a distinct theory in the 1990s. Following its inception, studies determining the criteria, drivers, and benefits of an engaged workforce have been undertaken by HR consulting powerhouses such as Gallup, Penna, and Towers Watson. The consensus among researchers overwhelmingly leads to three important conclusions:
- Humans are motivated by far more than money. They hope to find meaning and purpose in their lives and by extension, their career.
- Most people (about 70%) are not currently engaged at their place of work. [i]
- Most establishments do not take advantage of the benefits of increasing employee engagement.
- Individuals maintaining an understanding of their specific role as well as how their role fits into the organization’s broader values, needs, and objectives
- Workers possessing the resources to do their job efficiently
- Maintaining a good fit between skills and work responsibilities so that employees perceive they are performing fulfilling and good work
- Individuals and work teams feeling valued and respected, with leadership listening to their ideas and opinions
- Individuals being afforded opportunities and encouraged to develop within their areas of responsibility and receive promotions
- Employees sharing values with the organization and coworkers
- Workers feeling they are kept informed of organizational activities
Two Way CommunicationsThe overarching theme among these drivers of employee engagement is applying an effective, ongoing, two-way communications strategy between management and employees. Open dialogue is healthy for the entire organization as well as the individual. New ideas specific to an organization’s culture can be developed from honest and frequent dialog between members of the team. Please note the word “two-way” in two-way communications. Nurturing employee engagement is a labor that begins and hinges on the efforts of those in managerial positions. The responsibilities of a supervisor dedicated to the cause of increasing employee engagement include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Leading by example (being an advocate for the organization, treating people with respect, demonstrating the values held by the organization, etc.)
- Ensuring employees have the knowledge and resources required to succeed in their jobs
- Encouraging and providing open and honest communications
- Determining the appropriate avenues for employees to frequently give feedback
- Responding to feedback and demonstrating its significance with real change
Tracking ProgressOnce the appropriate communications strategy is set into motion, it is important to track the progress of the communications campaign to facilitate continuous improvement. Some useful metrics to gather include:
- Unique user logins and/or visits, as well as the total page views
- Number of downloads of any related downloadable content
- The time of day or day of the week that the user participates
- Percentages of users contributing to surveys
ConclusionDisengaged employees cost the economy about $300 billion per year in wasted time, training and hiring expenses, lost customers, etc. [iii] It has become more and more apparent to successful organizations that engaging their employees is not only rewarding, but also necessary. What are you doing to engage your workforce? Let us know in the comments below. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).[i] “State of the American Workplace.” Gallup (2017): n. pag. Web. 8 Apr. 2017. [ii] Robinson, D., S. Perryman, and S. Hayday. “The Drivers of Employee Engagement.” Institute for Employment Studies. Institute for Employment Studies, 2004. Web. 8 Apr. 2017. [iii] Solomon, Markos, and M. Sandhya Sridevi. “Employee Engagement: The Key to Improving Performance.” International Journal of Business and Management. N.p., Dec. 2010. Web. 8 Apr. 2017.