An employee outlook study in the UK last year found that sixty percent of employees are "neutral" – they’re neither engaged nor disengaged at work.
While this isn’t as damaging as having an army of actively disengaged employees, it’s still a big concern. Or maybe it’s better seen as a big opportunity. With the right strategy, you can release this untapped well of employee potential.
Five Steps to Get Your Employees Out of Neutral
If you want employees to shift gears, the onus is on HR and business leaders to get them engaged. Those looking for a quick fix will be disappointed — there is no magic wand.
Here are five steps to help you get your employees out of neutral and to drive engagement:
1. Understand your employees
You need to better understand your employees. Do you know what motivates them? Knowledge is power after all. And if you know your employees better, you’ll be able to communicate with them and engage them. This will mean management and employees are more likely to be pulling in the same direction.
2. Define what an engaged employee looks like
Once you’ve identified key drivers of employee engagement for your people, create a blueprint of an engaged individual. Knowing what they like, what they respond to and what they’re looking for will help you to tailor your people strategy to get the most out of employees.
3. Run an employee survey. And more importantly, act on the feedback
Most organizations nowadays are running an annual (or more regular) employee survey. However, where an alarming number of organizations are falling down is in not doing anything with the results. You must take on board what employees are saying and address concerns and areas that are of strategic importance. You must also communicate what you’re doing and what’s changing back to employees. Failure to do this will lead to even more apathetic or disengaged employees as they won’t feel listened to.
4. Make engagement more meaningful
Many organizations report that managers don’t understand engagement and it isn't meaningful. If that’s the case, talking about ‘increasing engagement’ is unlikely to resonate with your people. You need to make the business goals more transparent and tangible for people. Your goal presumably isn't just to increase engagement for the sake of it? So identify exactly what it is you’re trying to do by engaging employees, such as delivering better customer service, and use this as the central message.
5. Support front line managers
Managers today have more — and more varied — responsibilities than ever before. You need to support them to better engage employees. Help them to improve their relationship with their teams through regular discussion. This way they’ll be better prepared to support direct reports, help with problem-solving and be more adept at understanding and motivating their teams.
What Results Could You Expect?
The size of the prize is difficult to overstate. We’ve carried out predictive analysis of clients’ employee survey data in the past and found that increasing engagement levels by as little as 0.1 (on a scale of 1-5) could lead to revenue growth of four percent in the next year.
Put simply, shifting more employees out of neutral to being actively engaged could be a genuine game-changer for organizations.
Title image by waku (Shutterstock)
About the Author
Ben Egan is a consultant at UK-based HR consultancy and bespoke technology firm ETS.
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