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07/16 2011

Top 6 Rules of Employee Engagement

What is the key to employee engagement?   Is it pay?   Recognition?   A big bonus?  As it turns out, the #1 factor determining overall engagement is a bit more nuanced…

Studies show that the #1 factor in determining overall employee engagement is the relationship that an employee has with their immediate supervisor…

Perhaps this is not surprising — as interactions with supervisors tend to provide the forum for most interactions that employees have with the leadership of their organizations.  Put simply, good supervisors = high level of engagement, while poor supervisors = low levels of engagement.

Studies over the years have shown supervisory relationships to be the #1 predictor of turnover rates within an organization — and adding employee engagement as an outgrowth of supervisory relationships places increased emphasis on the need for quality mid-level managers and first-line supervisors.

The link between supervisory behaviors and employee engagement levels may be highest in medium-sized firms, stated Jack Zenger, author of The Extraordinary Leader(McGraw-Hill, 2011).    This is because attracting customers — and retaining them — is most critical for medium to smaller firms.  And because motivated and enthused employees greatly determine customer retention and satisfaction levels, the overall level of employee engagement in a firm is of major importance.

So what can be done to increase employee engagement levels?   Zenger offers these tips:

  1. Show Real Concern to Employees — this may be easy for the owner of a business to do — but what owners must ensure is that their mid-level managers and supervisors are also showing this concern to other employees…
  2. Share Information— the days are gone where strict hierarchy prevented the free-flow of information throughout the organization — younger employees, in particular, want to feel as though they are a part of the overall organization itself, and they want to be part of the decision-making process…
  3. Communicate Job Purpose— Everyone’s job contributes value to someone, and it is the job of supervisors and mid-level managers to communicate this.  Instead of simply focusing on the activities that comprise someone’s work day, focus on the value that they bring to customers, and others…
  4. Listen — When speaking with employees, it is important to take the time to stop speaking — and let them talk to you.  It is vitally important for employees to feel as though they are being heard.    And while it is important to solicit ideas and suggestions for improvement in the workplace — be careful about asking for such input if you are not willing to act on the results!
  5. Invest in Professional Development — Most employees are very interested in learning new skills — and they are also interested in learning more about the company that they work for.   Low cost alternatives — such as internal training seminars over a brown bag lunch — can go a long way towards increasing employee motivation and engagement…
  6. Say “Thank You” — simply remembering things like employee anniversary dates, birthdays, etc. go a long way towards increasing levels of engagement.   Send a written thank you card for key work accomplishments — your employees will remember it!

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