Employee engagement in the workplace has become, and should be, an area of focus for managers. This is in large part because it results in higher productivity and increased employee satisfaction. This article explores considerations for promoting employee engagement and identifies how managers can create and assess engagement in the workplace.
What does employee engagement mean? Simply, it means that people enjoy their jobs and are committed to the organization. The reasons for this may include satisfaction with the working conditions, being part of an environment in which they feel valued and appreciated, having a sense of belonging, and feeling as though they are making important contributions to the company. Fully engaged employees typically have a deep care and concern for their organization and actively seek ways to support its mission and vision.
Developing Employee Engagement
Employee engagement does not occur by accident. It also does not happen by controlling and ordering people around. Managers must take ownership of assessing the work environment and identify ways to enhance engagement. Engagement must be developed through the creation of a workplace that fosters connection, meaningfulness, and growth.
Consider the following:
Engaged employees feel connected to the company, their managers, and each other. Good relationships with coworkers tend to drive engagement to high levels. Relationships with managers have a huge impact. It is often the behavior of the manager that most directly influences an employee's level of engagement.
Managers can promote connection—and thus engagement—by listening to employees, demonstrating genuine care and concern for their issues, and providing tangible follow-up. They can also help employees develop positive relationships with colleagues that will enhance connection.
People need a sense of meaningfulness. This occurs when employees believe they are working toward something of importance and have a chance to contribute something of real value.
Managers impact meaningfulness by helping people understand the purpose of their work. Without clarity in the objectives or the “why” of the task, an employee may not see the meaning. Meaningfulness in a person's work creates feelings of pride and dignity which promote overall job satisfaction.
The opportunity for growth in the workplace is essential to creating employee engagement. People need to feel they are competent and that they have a chance to learn, grow, and advance.
CHARACTERISTICS OF ENGAGED EMPLOYEES
• Strong belief in the organization
• Desire to contribute and make things better
• Demonstrate respectfulness and helpfulness to peers
• Willing to go “the extra mile”
• Problem-solving attitude
• Actively supports organizational leadership
Managers must help employees understand their own talents and skills and place people in jobs where they can make the best contributions. It is important that they experience the feeling of success. Additionally, managers should provide training and learning programs that promote opportunities for advancement within the organization.
Managers must constantly assess level of engagement and use strategies to enhance it within the organization. This can be done in a variety of ways, including the use of employee surveys to solicit feedback. However, be mindful that when administering surveys you must act upon the information provided by employees and acknowledge any shortcomings. Failure to do so will result in higher levels of employee dissatisfaction and potentially lead to employee disengagement. Other ways to assess employee engagement include:
Observing employee interaction. Engaged employee communication is positive and ongoing.
Taking note of any employee turnover. High turnover rates can indicate dissatisfaction.
Monitoring absenteeism rates. An increase in absenteeism may point to issues that need to be addressed.
Evaluating employee participation. Engaged employees actively participate and seek opportunities to contribute.
Conducting customer satisfaction surveys. If employees are not engaged, they may not provide a positive experience for customers. This would be reflected in survey results.
Set Your Practice Apart
In today's competitive environment, employee engagement can be the differentiator that sets your practice apart. Studies clearly show that organizations with engaged employees have less turnover, are more productive and profitable, and enjoy greater employee and customer satisfaction. Employers need dedicated employees that are fully committed to the success of the organization, and employee engagement is a key success factor in making this happen.
Laura Baldwin is a senior consultant for BSM Consulting based in Scottsdale, AZ. Ms. Baldwin provides support to BSM and corporate clients in all aspects of physician and hospital practice management, including identification, development, and implementation of resources to improve the quality and efficiency of practices and programs. Ms. Baldwin is a Registered Nurse with more than 20 years of experience in health care, with roles in clinical nursing, program development, management, and hospital operations. Ms. Baldwin is a frequent speaker at many workshops and has served as course director and facilitator of clinical, business, and practice operations courses at the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.