"If Not You, Who?: Why employee engagement is so important to organizations
Last updated on January 4, 2022 at 03:33 pm
Employee engagement is about an employee feeling like leadership cares about them and they have that emotional connection to the organization. And the way that employee engagement is formed is when employees feel like management cares. It’s the number one driver of employee engagement.
On today’s episode of ICTV, we’re talking about employee engagement. We sat down with employee engagement expert, international keynote speaker, and author of the best-selling book If Not You, Who?, Jill Christensen to learn more about why employee engagement is so important to organizations, and how YOU can start making an impact today.
Why is employee engagement so important in today’s workplace where unemployment is at an all-time low?
So, organizations come to me all of the time and say, “How do we differentiate ourselves from the competition?” You create an amazing workplace culture. This carries so much weight with employees, especially with the millennials and Gen Zs, who will make up 50% of the American workforce by the end of 2020. We also know that many of the people who are quitting today, they’re your high performers who are not putting up with these dysfunctional workplace cultures. And so even though unemployment is very low, when you have people out there looking for work, they tend to be the best and brightest, and you want to be able to attract them.
What is the impact of employee engagement on an organization?
We know that the companies that are in the top tenth percentile outperform their peers 147% in earnings per share and they’re growing at a rate that’s 90% faster than the competition. You have your finger on the pulse of the employee body. So, if you marry that with data in the marketplace about the benefits of an engaged workforce, and bring to your senior leadership team a new strategy that actually works, you will be positioning yourself as a strategic internal communications business partner and you will also be the person in the organization who actually directed the senior leadership team and HR down a more successful path.
What tips do you have for teams to get started?
The definition of culture is how we do things here. So, in order for you to change your culture, you simply need to do things here differently tomorrow than you’re doing here today. I’m talking about your frontline managers because they’re the people who have the most interaction with your employees on a day to day basis. And so, culture change is simple because it’s really about getting all of your frontline managers to go to market consistently and a handful of key areas that we know are proven to massively increase employee engagement.
One of those areas is recognition. We know that employees don’t feel like they’re acknowledged and appreciated. So, you need to figure out what your company’s recognition program looks like and then you need to roll that out to your managers and tell them specifically what they need to be doing inside of that program.
Another area that we know comes up time and time again: people feel like orgs don’t have two-way communication cultures. One of the easiest things that internal comms people can do: focus groups. This is about you gathering your employees input and their thoughts before an important decision is made. For instance, you’re thinking about changing your benefits provider next year. Gather your employees together and let them know in advance. We want to know what you like about the current plan, what you don’t like. When you roll out your new benefits plan next year, and the communication reads: “Thank you for your feedback. You spoke, we listened. Here’s the new benefits plan”. That will land so much better on your employees and they will feel like they have a voice and that voice is being heard.
Another thing that your internal comms team can launch: it’s something I call quarterly conversations and that’s where your internal comms team will brainstorm one question a quarter. And when that question is rolled out to your frontline managers, and they are asked to have a one on one conversation with each of their direct reports, about this one question. That enables a frontline manager to show that they care about their employee, to learn about the things that excite and inspire the employee, and also learn about the things that that employee might wish they’re not really doing or working on. The way that employee engagement is formed is when employees feel like management cares.
What can internal communication pros do today?
30 years ago, employee disengagement in the US was at 70%. Fast forward to today, employee disengagement is 69%. We need to approach employee engagement differently. We need to engage someone from the senior leadership team in the journey. And then that senior leader needs to bring together all of our frontline managers and tell them specific actions that they need to take in the trenches then our frontline managers need to go to market consistently with their teams, and we need to hold our managers accountable via a shared performance management goal. It only takes one person to start the conversation with the senior leadership team that says: there is a better way to engage employees, there is a strategy out there that works, and I want to partner with you to embark on that journey to ensure the long term success of our organization.