Employee Engagement? The New Focus Should be Employee Involvement

Employee engagement has emerged as a current buzzword, and countless companies use engagement as a way to measure the level of commitment among their workers.

However, research from the Aberdeen Group shows that only 31 percent of organizations have a formal strategy for designing, implementing and measuring employee engagement. And when companies do measure engagement, it is usually done through an annual survey, which can often give a false sense of security.

Soliciting feedback from employees on an annual basis may sound good in theory, but annual surveys typically only show that an employee is doing his job and not much beyond that. Moreover, as these surveys are often completed anonymously and with multiple choice answers, they lack an interactive and personalized focus that is needed to get an accurate depiction of employee engagement.

A better way to judge employee satisfaction

Just because an employee is engaged in their job and meeting or exceeding expectations doesn’t mean they aren’t considering a move to a different organization. Instead of measuring engagement, companies can better gauge an individual’s job satisfaction and flight risk potential by determining how involved he or she is with the company.

Paying more attention to employee involvement allows you to go deeper beyond the surface and learn not just how someone feels about their job, but also their thoughts on the company, their careers and the relationship between the two.

And, when the organization can measure and analyze the involvement levels of their talent, they are in a much better position to identify flight risks, address other key talent management concerns and take the appropriate steps to ensure they retain top talent.

Today’s forward-thinking companies recognize the benefits of encouraging employee involvement across all levels of the business. Additional research from the Aberdeen Group shows that 65 percent of top-performing organizations have programs in place to deliver real-time recognition and ongoing feedback to their employees. Doing so enables employees to see how their contributions affect the organization and, in turn, ensures that individual goals and motivations align with overall business plans.

Employee involvement and organizational well-being

Increasing employee involvement not only helps employees to feel their contributions are important, it also has several benefits to the wellbeing of the organization as a whole. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), employees who feel valued report higher levels of engagement, satisfaction and motivation, and 93 percent of respondents who report feeling valued said that they are motivated to do their best work.

Encouraging employee involvement and showing appreciation for it can be highly effective in retaining employees and encouraging better performance.

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In addition to driving results, the organization also gains several advantages when it increases involvement through soliciting feedback from its staff. A report from Gartner Research suggests that when companies invite bottom-up feedback from their employees, they have more data points to consider and can make better-informed decisions. As they collect analytics into employee performance, they can continue to develop and implement organizational improvements that further drive performance.

The APA study also shows that half of all employees who do not feel valued at work intend to look for a job in the next year. As companies are already struggling to find talent for key positions, an inability to retain key talent means they will have to work harder to find top performers in an increasingly competitive environment.

One of the many benefits of driving employee involvement is that it can help to improve the bench strength of the organization, ensuring that it has an internal pool of qualified candidates it can leverage when positions do open up.

But to get to that point, it is important for employees to understand the career paths available to them. To improve employee involvement it is crucial for employees to understand their future at a company and for the organization to recognize the skills and ambitions of its internal talent. This can be accomplished by facilitating the transfer of information between employees and managers, by conducting regular performance reviews and garnering feedback from employees.

Increasing employee involvement

In today’s business environment, keeping employees engaged with their job is no longer enough. As employees have become more empowered over the last decade and company loyalty has decreased, many individuals won’t hesitate to leave their jobs if they do not feel sufficiently involved with their organization. To increase employee involvement and ensure the company can retain and promote more of its current employees, consider the following tips:

  • Ask for feedback — A key aspect of increasing involvement is by providing employees with a way to communicate their feelings about their job and the company in a productive and effective manner. This can be done by creating brief, open-ended surveys throughout the year and having more discussions between employees and managers about the company, their responsibilities and what changes they would like to see.
  • Provide recognition — When employees receive recognition for their accomplishments and contributions, they are more likely to take pride in their work and feel that they are making a difference. At the same time, they should also be given regular feedback about their performance and ways they can continue to improve.
  • Include employees in key decisions — Integral to improving employee involvement is to consult with all parties about any important business decisions that will affect them. Even if all ideas aren’t good, it is important for employees to feel that their voices are being heard. Moreover, the company has much to gain by listening to a wider range of ideas and perspectives that might otherwise go unnoticed.
  • Illuminate career paths — Working with employees to discuss their career aspirations and future positions within the organization can create alignment between individual and organizational goals. And, when employees know about possible career paths available to them, they will be more likely to remain with the company rather than seek opportunities elsewhere.
  • Ensure ongoing development — Providing ample opportunities for employees to continue to learn and develop enables them to expand their skills and grow along with the organization. Through ongoing development, employees will be better equipped with the skills needed to advance through the company and continue to be a part of its success.
  • Unify your HR business practices — Bringing unification across your talent enterprise is no small undertaking, but incorporating the right technology and processes can help. In order to truly deliver on the promise of a performance-driven and engaged culture, a company must be able to align their talent strategy across typically siloed HR functions. By utilizing talent management technology in the right way, a company is better prepared to track and measure the results of its talent initiatives and provide the business intelligence it needs for executive buy-in.

This is excerpted from a Technomedia white paper titled Is Employee Involvement the New Engagement?

Dwaine Maltais is executive vice president and general manager of U.S. operations for Technomedia. Since 1994 Maltais has led innovations in the recruiting and HR technology space with the launch of the SmartPost job optimization platform and the Hodes iQ Talent Acquisition platform. Maltais regularly consults with senior leadership in Fortune 500 organizations on talent acquisition and talent management strategies and actively writes about and speaks on HR technology topics.