Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with and leading varieties of people from different cultures and nationalities with different skills and attitudes. One thing that has been a common factor is that nothing replaces engagement when it comes to productivity. For any workplace, employee engagement is core.
So, what is this engagement that one keeps hearing about? Why is it crucial to the workplace? Especially in the current scenario where work is becoming more remote.
Employees feel a certain emotional connection towards their work, the people they work with and the company that they work for. The strength of this connection is employee engagement. And it is no surprise that the stronger the connection, the better! It is the employees who feel a stronger connection who will keep their job for a longer period, work better and even get others to work more by encouraging them. Engaged employees perform 20% better than their colleagues and act as advocates of the business. No wonder that according to a study by the Harvard Business Review, 92% of business executives believed that engaged employees perform better, boosting the success of their teams and the outcomes of their organizations.
Be it revenue, profit, productivity, turnover, or any other important aspect of a company, it is directly or indirectly impacted by employee engagement. A leader must therefore provide an environment in which employees are kept engaged.
Levels of Engagement
The challenge when it comes to employee engagement is that engagement levels of employees do not always remain the same. They are dynamic and change according to the personality and even biography of employees. A youngster will probably be very positive while joining a company, however, he/she can soon become disengaged. The whole concept of engagement is easier for employees who are extroverts and who are experienced. It has also been found that women tend to be more engaged than men.
There are also different drivers to engagement that can impact each employee’s level of engagement.
Types of Employees based on Engagement
According to Gallup (2009), there are three types of employees: engaged, not engaged and actively disengaged.
We all want our employees to fall under the first bracket: ENGAGED. They are the employees who work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the company forward.
The second type is the NOT-ENGAGED employees. They have no energy or passion and though they put time at work, they are pretty much not working. They do the work just because they must do it but with a lack of interest.
I find the third type intriguing: The ACTIVELY DISENGAGED employees. These guys aren’t just unhappy, but they show it. They undermine what others do and make it difficult for everyone. This is toxic and can have a long-term negative impact on your organisation.
The role of Feedback in engagement
According to Gallup, if your manager focuses on your strengths, the chances of you becoming disengaged is only 1 in 100. Even if your supervisor gives you negative feedback, it is still better than being ignored or overlooked. So, some feedback is better than none when it comes to engagement. If an employee is ignored, he/she is twice as likely to become actively disengaged than if their weakness is the focus.
Thus, feedback is very crucial in engagement – be it negative or positive.
One of Gallup’s biggest discoveries was that the manager or the team leader alone accounts for 70% of the variance in team engagement.
In the past, employees worried about their salaries, however, now they think about their purpose in life. In the current times, the boss has to become a coach in order to earn the respect of the employees. Development has today taken a precedence over satisfaction. Ongoing conversations have become more important than employee annual reviews. Even in feedback, the focus has shifted from weaknesses to strengths.
It is therefore pertinent for leaders to create a culture of development and this can be achieved only through high engagement.