It’s no secret that an engaged employee is a more productive and profitable one. Researchers have analysed the impact that engaged employees have on a business and found that active engagement is a strong factor in driving innovation and building solid customer relationships. As with many aspects of business, once a need is identified, ‘experts’ start to come out of the woodwork claiming to know the secret to creating engaged employees. One need only do a quick trawl of Google to find a myriad of articles out there giving you their top 10 tips.
A recent study produced by the CIPD found that those employees with the highest level of engagement cited variety, autonomy and meaningfulness in their role as important factors. The report also found that higher engagement correlated with stronger job performance and ‘citizenship behaviour’ (or being part of the team).
Engagement is a complex and fluctuating state. As employees are human beings rather than robots, it’s perfectly possible for an individual’s level of engagement to change on a daily basis. You may have a job working for a cause you believe in passionately, with good levels of variety and autonomy, but if you’re asked to stuff envelopes and make coffee for a few days in a row your level of job satisfaction and subsequent engagement is likely to drop (although, it depends on the person). The problem with these catch-all solutions is that the workforce comprises individuals, motivated and incentivised by different factors at different times. Their behaviour, responses and wants cannot be predicted. One-size-fits-all solutions can’t be applied to all people across all industries.
If managers are serious about employee engagement they need to tailor a solution to their own company by consulting the real experts – the staff that they are trying to engage. By going through a process which asks employees for their opinions, and takes action on the recommendations that they provide, managers show their employees that their opinions are important, that they have been, and will be, listened to with respect. These employees end the process with a feeling that they have made an impact on the business, and that their managers understand that their experience gives them a unique and important voice in the decision-making process. How, for example, can directors sitting in a boardroom know more about the customer than those on the shop-floor?
Discovering the secret to creating engaged employees is simple and challenging. All the employer has to do is consult their staff, yet this requires the business to understand the true value of the knowledge and experience that the employee possesses, and sometimes this can be the biggest stumbling block to engagement.