We know in our hearts employee engagement is important, but in 2016 did you carry it out in the same way you always have? Did you do a survey? Compare the results to the prior years’ or established benchmarks? Did you give managers 30 days to submit a plan to make changes? Did HR do the same? Then what? Was anyone talking about engagement? In any meetings? Anywhere?
What if I told you I would give you a nickel for every time someone in your company said engagement, but then take a nickel away every time someone in your company said sales? Sound like a good deal? ‘Didn’t think so.
So why is engagement such a hard sell? Gallup1 tells us eye-popping differences between organizations that score in the top 25% for engagement versus those that score in the bottom 25%…specifically that the best ones produce 22% more profits and 21% more productivity. There are many more such studies but here’s my favorite: When salespeople give just 10% more effort, customers spend 22.7 percent more money. That’s a lot of bucks!
Knowing this, shouldn’t CFOs be on our side, pushing the top team to at the very least talk about engagement more often? Or…strong one here…follow up on each manager’s engagement action plan to make sure it happens?
In 2017, let’s shake things up a bit! Here are five ideas to breathe new life into employee engagement :
1. Get your CFO onboard. Meet one-on-one with your CFO to share engagement’s correlations to productivity and profitability. You can find more information in our white paper, “How Much Does Employee Engagement Correlate With Profitability?”. Take your calendar and ask your CFO to agree to a firm schedule to share this information with your executive team, scattered over the next few months to remind them…and her…that engagement is not just an HR metric but one that drives your company’s most critical numbers.
2. Teach your top team how engagement works. Now cued up by your CFO, report to your top team key Gallup data on the true cause-and-effect on what makes employees engaged. The right answers are stronger relationships with their direct supervisors and building close friendships at work. Then go one step deeper and tell them those relationships must be built on trust. The actionable step this leads to is each person in your company who manages others must do trust-building behaviors each day and hire others who do the same. So IN are telling truths, confronting performance and other potential issues openly, and listening to fully understand. OUT are action plans with more meetings, employee recognition events, and bringing in food. Those things are OK but not substantial by themselves.
3. Check current action plans. Then ask your executives to commit to re-looking at each manager’s engagement action plan to ensure it presents activities that are more likely to build one-on-one trust among managers and employees and employees with each other. HINT: Stay Interviews are the very best solutions here.
4. Re-schedule your next survey. Now let’s get tactical by asking your top team when the next engagement survey should happen. If the plan is in one year…or even longer…is that fair to your employees who’ve drawn the short stick and have a manager who scored at the bottom? Smart companies are now surveying 25% of their employees each quarter so managers get a score every 90 days. Ask your top team this question: If our customers or patients told us a part of our service was bad, would we wait a full year to find out if we had fixed it?
5. This is important so set a goal. No longer will we feel good about meeting an external benchmark, which is equivalent to being mediocre when measured against other organizations that can’t figure this out. We set goals for sales, service, and other important metrics and now engagement is important, too. What is our engagement goal? And what actions do we take with managers who fail to meet it?
Here’s one last step. Print this article, highlight key points, and circulate it among your top team. A few months later they’ll be glad you did.