Engaged Employees… How Do We Get Them and Keep Them? – Part II
We have found Gallup’s latest State of the American Workplace survey results fascinating, and you can see some of the statistics cited in the report in a previous post on my blog site. The findings reinforce the need for proper placement of the right candidate into a management position as well as the need for that new manager to have an eye toward employee engagement and getting to know exactly who is motivated by what. When creating an employee engagement program, three of the factors that should be evaluated are the tenure, age, and gender of team members. Let’s examine those one at a time.
What motivates an employee who has been with the company for 10 years is not the same as what motivates someone on the payroll for only 6 months. Tenure with the company provided some interesting, and frankly, surprising statistics. Did you know that employees in the “with the organization 6 months or less” category were actually the most engaged when comparing them with those who have up to 10 years of tenure? The first 6 months can be considered “the honeymoon stage” in employees’ relationships with the company, and more importantly, their manager. In this scenario, manager and employee are both still on their best behavior. A well-trained manager can continue to engage newer staff members by using effective communication techniques and by spending focused time on getting to know their true motivators.
The age of employees is also a factor in their level of engagement. Traditionalists (those born before 1945) have the highest level of engagement at 44%, followed by Millennials (born between 1981 and 1999) at 33%. Generation X (born 1965 – 1980) weighs in at 28% engagement and Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) are 26% engaged. It’s interesting to note here that Baby Boomers make up quite a large portion of the current workforce. It is also likely that Boomers will stay in the workplace longer than previous generations, so creating an active engagement plan targeted at this age group will be beneficial to the organization in the long run.
This brings us to gender. Women have a slightly higher engagement level than men despite perceived gender-equality issues such as hiring bias, lower pay, and the so-called glass ceiling. We can look to the actual rankings for clues here. Women’s scores were higher on relationship-based items such as “supervisor or someone who cares” and “best friends.” On the other hand, men rated “employees committed to quality” and “mission and purpose” higher on their lists. Managers would do well to keep these differences in mind when creating engagement systems.
Just what should an employee engagement system address? Three key strategies can make a difference in employee engagement scores:
1. Select the Right Managers. Seek those who exhibit proficiency in supporting, empowering, and engaging others. Find people with an eye for what those around them do well, and who have a knack for purposefully positioning them in the tasks at which they will excel. Engagement begins with an opportunity to allow employees to do what they do best.
2. Develop the Strengths of All Employees. Building the strengths of employees is far more effective than trying to improve weaknesses. No employee, manager, or front line, wants to be the square peg being pushed into the round hole. Key in on the innate talents and skills of your staff through assessments, interviews, and an “open door” management style. Get to know your staff members and help them set themselves up for success. Instead of basic training sessions, offer ongoing development based on Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Learning.
3. Make Employee Well-being an Organizational Strategy. Engaged employees are not only happier, they are healthier. A healthy workforce reduces a company’s investment in healthcare costs. Plus, healthy behaviors are contagious. Leaders who are thriving in their own wellbeing are more likely to have healthy, thriving employees.
Thriving Employees = Engaged Employees.
If your organization does not have an employee engagement strategy in place, the company could be losing more than you know. It’s time to consider making employee engagement a fundamental line item in your strategic plan.