This post is the first in a series of three posts by Joe España, an Executive Consultant in Forum’s Resource Network and Managing Director of Performance Equations.
There can be no doubt that employee engagement has become a hot button issue for management with the overwhelming statistical evidence of its benefits. Engagement is more than just job satisfaction; fully engaged employees are motivated and dedicated to making the organisation a success. At its most superficial engaged employees lead to greater customer satisfaction and loyalty and thereby repeat business. But employee engagement also leads to improvement in innovation, productivity and profits. In simpler terms, it has a pretty large impact on the bottom line.
There is an aspect of employee engagement that is not often acknowledged: Employee engagement is not an on/off experience nor is it a static state. Employees are not either engaged or disengaged and their level of engagement is also variable. An individual might feel less engaged at the beginning of a week and end it with feelings of higher engagement. This degree of variability creates a challenge for organisations as they try to raise levels of engagement and maintain consistency.
My company, Performance Equations, has conducted research into employee engagement which revealed three “golden rules” or pillars that significantly influence the existence of higher levels of employee engagement. These are trust, emotional connection and workplace climate.
We found that the immediate team manager is more likely to influence these three pillars than any other part of the organisation. What managers do, how they behave, what they say and, importantly, how they say it affects employees’ sense of trust in their immediate boss and sets the tone for the team spirit. How effectively they are able to manage team relationships, our research showed, greatly influences employees’ attitudes about their jobs and the organisation as a whole and their sense of connection with it.
Feeling-based personal relationships have the greatest influence in causing employees to work effectively, stay with their company and feel pride for their organisation and its mission. In the majority of studies investigating the effect of emotion on workplace performance noted that fully engaged employees express feelings of enthusiasm, empowerment, confidence and appreciation based on their interactions with their direct managers as well as their team members.
Employees who are unhappy and dissatisfied with their immediate manager are less likely to identify with the organisation’s vision and more likely to be absent or to resign. Isn’t the old saying that people join companies, but leave their boss? Employees who are engaged take pride in their work, support organisational goals and are less willing to change jobs for a minor increase in salary. While a good immediate manager makes all employees feel valued, confident and connected, a poor manager irritates them and makes them feel uncomfortable.
Would you add any pillars to this? Leave your comment below to join the conversation. Look out next week for Part 2, Practical Tips for Managers to Improve Employee Engagement. For more information on employee engagement join us for our upcoming webinar, Leading Change in Complex Times.