Harnessing Engagement

Kristina StuartUncategorized

Consistent with the new era of conscious capitalism that has dawned worldwide, is an undeniable and almost insatiable thirst among business leaders in Barbados to not only excel financially but also seeing their staff thrive, develop and grow.  To achieve this however, the transition towards a high performing country that embraces the concept of capacity, willingness and ability (CWA) and recognize that employee performance and engagement depends heavily on these three factors is paramount.  To align Barbados with the global movement towards a greater number of engaged employees in our organisations, a number of organizations have not only sought to measure their own internal engagement score, but entities such as the National Initiative for Service Excellence (NISE) and the Productivity Council have sought to provide a national picture as a benchmark for growth.  Much of this research conducted was supported by D.B. Research Services in various capacities including statistical analysis and insight, reporting and other essential elements in such a massive initiative.

More than 7 years after the release of the initial exploration of employee engagement on a national scale, it feels as though some business leaders are still coming to grips with the concept that only 30% of the Barbadian workforce were classified as fully engaged employees.  How could the goals of the organization ever be met with only 1 out of every three persons pursing these goals with the vigor and determination necessary to be classified as engaged?  Best estimates for revenue lost to organisations worldwide due to the absence of engagement remain in the billions.  In the most recent Gallup survey, disengaged employees cost the U.S. between $483 billion to $605 billion each year (Gallup, 2017).

Engaged employees are the backbone of good work environments (Levinson, 2007; Cleland et. al 2008) and hence engaging employees is one of the biggest challenges for employers (Mike Johnson, The new Rules of Engagement 2004). Moreover, companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202% (Dale Carnegie) and Gallup (2013) suggests that engagement is linked to and critical to an organisation’s productivity, financial success and profitability and customer satisfaction.

But what is employee engagement?

Employee engagement extends and connects employee satisfaction, motivation and psychological well-being to establish the catalyst for organisational success. It focuses on how connected workers feel and how much they buy into their organisations’ vision and direction (Blessings & White, 2013). Effectory International defines the engaged employee in this way: “Engaged employees are passionate about the work they do, feel energized by their work and they enjoy making a contribution by doing their jobs. These employees are devoted to improving their work and themselves.”

3 things you can do from tomorrow to enhance engagement

  1. Executives can create an enabling environment for their staff to become more engaged at work by having a clear plan and values everyone can buy into and understand how they fit in. Developing and championing workplace policies and programmes that foster employee empowerment and open communication.  It is important that Executives create a shared purpose by engaging the hearts and minds of all employees, earning their trust and providing the meaning that fuels maximum contribution and commitment to action. Key words for Executives – Trust, Communicate and Culture
  2. Managers/Supervisors can serve as organisational role models for their subordinates, providing them with the necessary support, resources, tools, and motivation to meet their work goals and targets. Specifically Supervisors need to develop purposeful relationships and dialogue with their subordinates, align the employees to the strategy and provide long-term visibility on career options in the face of ambiguity in the organisation. Key words for Manager/Supervisors – Coaching, relationship and dialogue
  3. Staff can take advantage of opportunities created by their superiors to develop and apply critical job-related competencies in both novel and productive ways in the organisation.  Since engagement is by and large a personal equation shaped by an individual’s unique values, interests, talents and aspiration every employee ultimately has responsibility for his or her own engagement. Their self-initiative and innovativeness will go a long way in creating an environment conducive to continuous learning, employee engagement and overall loyalty. Key words for employees – Ownership, clarity and action

Leaders are encouraged to pay attention to not only the drivers of employee engagement but the tremendous fall out that is likely when your scales are imbalanced in favour of the dis-engaged.   Employees drive business success so leaders, be vigilant, listen more, share your vision over and over, keep them connected to the goal, not the role!