12 Predictors of Employee Engagement
Remember that scene in the Wizard of Oz when Professor Marvel gazes into his crystal ball to glimpse hints of Dorothy’s life? Employee engagement factors aren’t mystical divinations or fantastical imaginings. They’re scientifically validated drivers supported by research studies from varied sizes and types of organizations around the globe.
A report in Ivey Business Journal describes an engaged employee as “a person who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work.” Citing the book Getting Engaged: The New Workplace Loyalty, by Tim Rutledge, the article goes on to explains that truly engaged employees are attracted to, and inspired by, their work (“I want to do this”), committed (“I am dedicated to the success of what I am doing”), and fascinated (“I love what I am doing”). Engaged employees care about the future of the company and are willing to invest the discretionary effort – exceeding duty’s call – to see that the organization succeeds. ¹
But how does an organization get there?
Here are 12 employee engagement factors under an organization’s direct influence and control that impact how employees relate to their employer.
1. Leadership: Trust and confidence in the ability of senior leaders to guide the organization’s strategic directives give employees a reason to place their faith in those at the helm. Leaders who show they value employees through active listening campaigns (employee engagement surveys), where staff are asked for - and leaders act on – feedback is a strong indicator that an organization is doing a respectable job of engaging employees.
2. Mission, Vision, and Values: These fundamental building blocks are the foundation of what an organization aspires to be, how it intends to achieve its goals and what principles or standards of behavior define its path. A predictor of high engagement is when employees are aware of and understand their fit and how their contribution connects them to something bigger than themselves: the success and future of their organization.
3. Personal Development: Variety is the spice of life. Employees want the opportunity to grow, to keep getting better at what they do and to acquire transferable skills along the way. Nothing opens the revolving door of exiting employees faster than stagnating careers. High engagement occurs in environments where people are challenged with meaningful work and provided with opportunities for learning and career development.
4. Self-Management: You relish the freedom to control the flow and pace of your work, right? You’re not alone. Employees crave autonomy, independence. They want to determine how they can best do their job, and be responsible for their work, from start to finish. Creating opportunities for employees to exercise some level of self-management or control over their work is another precursor of engaged employees and employers.
5. Accolades: Highly engaging organizations take every opportunity to sing the praises of a job well done. Who doesn’t like the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with recognition? Public or private, compliments are a simple, sure-fire way to make someone feel appreciated and bolster the engagement quotient.
6. Supervisory Management: The supervisor or manager who oversees a department or team is a cog in the organizational wheel; the gatekeeper for employee questions and concerns. In highly engaged organizations positive two-way relationships and open-door communication go a long way towards supporting employees in their work and encouraging an invested, personal-best level of performance.
7. Communication: When employees are kept informed and given the information needed to do their jobs there’s a sense of connection. Rather than feeling like outsiders left to fend for themselves in the dark, thoughtful, inclusionary communication helps staff understand how their contribution fits into the bigger picture.
8. Teamwork: Working with others is a lesson learned at an early age. Team assignments at school can be messy: clash of the egos, slackers vs go-getters, ill-defined goals, if any. We’ve all been there, done that as students and/or parents. On the other hand, team sports like baseball and hockey have defined roles, clear game plans, and a camaraderie born of shared interests, mutual respect, and trust. Workplace cultures that cultivate team collaboration and caring co-worker relations create better job experiences for employees and gain beneficial performance outcomes. A win-win.
9. Environment: Open concept layouts or cubicle farms don’t define an organization’s work environment. It’s the atmosphere that contributes to or detracts from employee engagement. An affable, relaxed and supportive milieu is measurably more conducive to connection than a toxic ivory tower setting of intimidation and aloofness.
10. Receptiveness: Studies show encouragement of creativity and innovation is a strong predictor of employee engagement. People want to share and take pride in their ideas and problem-solving insights; receptive, open-minded organizations reap the rewards.
11. Accepting the Whole Person: The way an organization approaches work/life balance is another key factor related to employee allegiance or lack thereof. Recognizing work is but one part of the whole person and offering flexible policies and programs to accommodate employees in their lives beyond their jobs is a measure of immense payback proportions.
12. Feedback: Exceptional department and team leaders give constructive feedback and coach employees whenever an opportunity to do so presents (rather than waiting for the next annual review). Employees want to grow and develop but really can’t advance too far on their own. Thoughtful, timely feedback is a confidence booster and powerful predictor of engaged employee behavior.
What about the money factor?
Compensation can be an enticing recruitment tool, but numerous studies statistically deconstruct its employee engagement value after the fact. True enough, when employees believe remuneration is unfair or lags the competitive workforce they may look to greener fields. However, a fair-market wage earned for work that’s personally and professionally engaging - well - that’s a horse of a different color.
Determine which employee engagement factors are driving your employees to excel... or not
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