There are many statistics about employee engagement, but the most important fact that no one will deny is that employee productivity is tied to profits. When employees are disengaged and unproductive, there are fewer sales. By contrast, when employees surpass quotas with high productivity, sales rise. Therefore, productivity results in happier employees who remain with their companies longer, which in turn, results in satisfied customers. So, what does your business do to promote employee engagement?
Have you ever seen an engaged employee? Do you know what one looks like? According to Wikipedia, “an engaged employee is one who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work and will act in a way that furthers an organization’s interests.”
However, a recent jobs report from Gallup found that:
 70% of workers hate their jobs or are disengaged.
 Bad managers were the biggest cause of the high percentage of disengaged workers.
 When employees work remotely, they’re more engaged and productive.
As a result of those staggering statistics, I asked 25 of my favorite leadership and employee engagement experts to answer the question, “What one tip would you give to employers to promote employee engagement?” Here are their insightful tips.
John Baldoni (@JohnBaldoni): Connect the dots. Managers do their employers well by linking the work they do with the vision and mission of the organization. When employees know that what they do matters to the organization, they feel that they are making a contribution.
Shep Hyken (@Hyken): Want engaged employees? Create a FUN experience. FUN is an acronym for Fulfillment, Uniqueness, and Next. Employees want to be fulfilled; so treat them right and make them feel appreciated. Exploit them for their unique talents; what they’re good at and what they can offer that others might not. And get them excited about what’s next; the next project, the next new product, or even the next day.
Bob Kelleher (@BobKelleher): Here are my three tips: 1) Develop and brand a captivating Employer Value Proposition (why do people work here?) that galvanizes all employees from C-suite to new hires; 2) Make sure there is a focus on purpose, which is key to capturing your employees’ hearts and heads; and 3) Eliminate all perceived “caste” systems like executive parking spots, executive perk of flying business or first class, etc. – anything that says “We are better than you” or “Us vs. Them.”
Ronald Thomas (@ronald_thomas): Manage your workforce by walking around. In order to build trust, leaders must connect with their workforce. That means getting out of the offices and conference rooms and walking the floor. Stop by employees’ cubicles, take a seat, and see what they’re working on. Trust between workers and organizations has been broken, and the connection must be repaired.
Steve Curtin (@enthused): Be intentional about learning the names, hobbies and interests of your employees. When you see them at work, greet them by name and, as time permits, inquire about their hobbies and interests. When employees believe you care about them as people with lives, histories, families, and dreams, rather than just as full-time employees who occupy job roles that enable production, their commitment, job satisfaction, pride, and willingness to expend discretionary effort will soar.
Eric Jacobson (@EricKCExaminer): Discover each employee’s passion and provide him or her with an opportunity to experience that passion at work. For example, some people like to blog. Others enjoy taking photos. Many take pleasure in volunteering for the community. Too often, each person’s daily job responsibilities don’t allow time for these passions. So, identify and create ways to engage the blogger, photographer, community service leader, etc.
Leigh Branham (@ReEngageBook): Listen to your employees with every intention of responding with meaningful actions. This typically means conducting an employee engagement survey and taking PROMPT action on the issues surfaced that are most likely to: 1) increase general workforce engagement (or decrease disengagement); and 2) result in increased discretionary effort among employees considered most critical to achieving key business objectives. It’s shocking and depressing how many companies just conduct the survey to see what their score is without following up with actions to change the culture or improve management practices.
Rory Trotter (@RoryCTrotterJR): The single most effective way to promote employee engagement is to have managers sit down with their direct reports and discuss what the direct reports want out of their careers. Every employee should have a career development plan. This way, if employees feel that their efforts at work are as much of an investment in the company’s future as their own, they will dedicate their energy to the company, which aligns with high performance.
Bruce Temkin (@btemkin): Share the mission. Employees want to affiliate with organizations that have a sense of purpose, so make sure they understand the mission and continually reinforce how their actions support that mission.
Doug Dickerson (@managemntmoment): My advice to leaders is to set the example. Don’t promote engagement and leave it to others to implement. If you want your employees to be engaged, then you must show them how.
Cynthia Trivella (@CyndyTrivella): Never stop communicating. If you don’t have an organized and scheduled communications tool in place, create one. Often, leadership teams fail to get the buy-in and support they need from their employees. But more often than not, people will step up and participate if given the chance, but they first need to understand the goals of the organization.
Terri Scandura (@terriscandura): To increase employee engagement, leaders should develop exchange relationships with all followers on their teams.
Rebecca Bales (@LuminaLearning and @RebeccaLBales): According to recent Gallup findings, “When managers focus on their employees’ strengths, they can practically eliminate workplace disengagement.” This is huge because we know that people need to feel valued and that they make a difference. To leaders everywhere, prove that people make a difference in your business.
Adrian Swinscoe (@adrianswinscoe): I think it was Marcus Buckingham who first said, “People join companies and leave managers.” Therefore, my tip to employers who want to promote employee engagement is to invest in training for managers at all levels.
Lyn Boyer (@Lyn_Boyer): Employees must be challenged, and they must feel trusted, but they are only fully engaged when they have enjoyable relationships with supervisors and colleagues. Therefore, when employers build and promote workplace relationships, they enhance employee engagement.
Steve J. Gill (@sjgill): From the outset, tell new employees how their jobs contribute to the success of the organization. Keep reminding them of this and praise them frequently for contributing to the success of the organization. This applies to frontline employees as well as senior executives.
Mike Henry, Sr. (@mikehenrysr): Employers should help employees to create the best job possible for employees. This is a true partnership because an employee’s best job makes the employee happy, and a happy employee is also a great employee.
William Powell (LeadrshpAdvisor): Understand which emotions will create the type of engagement that your organization needs to achieve its goals. Whatever those emotions are, develop an appropriate culture featuring those emotions.
Sharlyn Lauby (@sharlyn_lauby): Create a feedback mechanism. It can be an employee survey, a town hall gathering, or dedicated one-on-one meetings. Find a method of sharing information and obtaining feedback. Then use the information to improve the workplace.
Louis Efron (@LouisEfron): Make every job the most important job at your company.
Scott McKain (@ScottMcKain): Employers should ask each employee: “If we could change ONE THING about how you do your job in order to make it easier for you to be more productive, what would you suggest?” And a corollary is: “If we could change ONE THING about your job to make it more enjoyable for you to become more engaged and productive, what would you suggest?” The employee must prioritize, and discussion is stimulated. If the question were, “What would you change?” and the employer doesn’t make the change, then the employee thinks that the organization doesn’t listen.
Doug Brown (@DougKBrown1): Since investing in engagement pays sound dividends and generates bottom line profits, a successful strategy is to develop leaders who understand the benefits of employee engagement and have the skills to inspire and motivate performance.
Stephen Baird, Esq. (@DuetsBlog and @WinthropMPLS): Lead by example.
Michelle Braden (@CoachingLeaders): Here are my three tips: 1) Engaged employees begin with authentic and engaged leaders; 2) Engaged employees are ones that take ownership of their work, which means that the leader has to give the opportunity and create a culture of taking ownership; and 3) Engaged employees enjoy and have the talents in what they do, so leaders have to make sure they have the right people in the right places – using their strengths rather than trying to make people something they are not.
Erika Andersen (@erikaandersen), author and leadership expert, wrote about employee engagement in a recent post for Forbes. “If a company’s focus is ‘How can we give our customers what they want,’ then that company needs great employees. To come up with the ideas, to make the great products, to interact with the customers. Employees aren’t a begrudged necessity in that kind of company – they’re what makes it possible. And if my company feels like that about me, and treats me that way, then I’m most likely to feel that way about my company and treat my company that way. Voilà: engagement. AND productivity, reduced turnover, attracting top talent. AND delighted customers, great products and services, big profits.”
For more inspiration on this topic, visit my Employee Engagement Board on Pinterest:
Take the Employee Engagement Universal Driver Survey from Leigh Branham:
Image Credit: Thanks to Steve Curtin for the use of his image with this post. Read Steve’s Blog: http://www.stevecurtin.com/blog
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.