It’s No Big Mystery: Here Are the 3 Secrets of Employee Engagement

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Aug 20, 2013

There’s no denying that employee engagement has become one of the HR buzz words of our time.

On all of the blogs I follow, the science behind employee engagement has been one of the main topics consistently for weeks. In my opinion, there’s been an extreme overuse of the term and I fear that this will make us lose sight of what’s really important about employee engagement: our employees.

In between assessing why employee engagement is important, gathering statistics on how much revenue it generates and finding out how many workers don’t like their job (excuse me: are disengaged), we forget that our employees are people first and employees second.

The 3 drivers behind engagement

The other day I came across a study that, contrary to most of the surveys out there, researches the underlying reasons why people are disengaged. And it’s authored by no other than Dale Carnegie Training (I’m confident calling Dale Carnegie the father of the art of influencing people, more than 15 million sold copies should allow for that).

The Carnegie team studied the functional and emotional elements that affect employee engagement. We keep looking for the ultimate secret of employee engagement, but his key findings reveal something that we sensed long before: The secret is that there is no secret.

Taking a closer look at the three (3) main drivers behind employee engagement, we’re getting close to conquering the science to see what we can do to make this world just a bit better. It also comes with higher employee productivity and better leadership skills).

1. Relationship with immediate supervisor

What does it mean? A “caring” manager is one of the key elements that drive employee engagement. The attitude and actions of the immediate supervisor can enhance employee engagement or can create an atmosphere where an employee becomes disengaged.

What can you do? Install an Open Door, Open Mind policy and prioritize communication. Carnegie’s study shows that employees want their managers to care about their personal lives, to take an interest in them as people, to care about how they feel and support their health and well-being.

Take advantage of technologies that allow you to personalize your talent management. Show that you care by devoting time to find out what really motivates your employee, what he (or she) needs in order to be more productive and see if they’re happy and comfortable in what they’re doing.

Benefits: A manager’s ability to build strong relationships with employees, build strong team interaction and lead in a “person-centered” way creates an engaging environment in which employees can perform at the highest possible level.

2. Belief in senior leadership

What does it mean? Most of your employees only know the organization’s senior management from the company newsletter. A large majority of the surveyed employees said that believing in the ability of senior leadership to take their input, lead the company in the right direction and openly communicate the state of the organization is key in driving engagement.

What can you do? Encourage senior management to be a part of the employees’ corporate life. Install 15 minute sessions every week where senior management speak to all employees and create virtual ask your CEO — groups where employees are being heard.

Benefits: Employees feel valued, trusted and part of something bigger. In return, you’ll get an increase in employee productivity.

3. Pride in working for the company

What does it mean: The loyalty of employees has decreased substantially while the need for work-life balance has gone up. The more an employee identifies with the company (including outside of the work environment) will significantly influence his (or her) job performance.

What can you do? Work with your employees to see how their personalities fit into the company’s overall goals and culture. Make the company culture and values part of your company’s DNA by enforcing clear and ongoing communication. Establish your employee’s clear career path and set goals with a potential for personal and professional growth and show how it ties into the overall company goals.

Benefits: Employees are more committed, dedicated and motivated to contribute to the organization’s success which in turn leads to more satisfied customers, an increase in sales and profit and an increase in stock price.

Employee engagement is not a science. By showing your employees that they are valued and have responsibility, and recognize and reward them for a job well done, a manager can create an “involved employee.”

Only then, will it be easier to turn that sense of involvement into enthusiasm and sense of autonomy into high levels of engagement.