Monday, June 15, 2009

Employee Engagement: In or Out?

Should we be worried about employee engagement during this recession? After all, we are all trying to survive, should we be concerned if our employees are engaged?

I read a very interesting article in BusinessWeek on the subject. The authors made some very good points. Paul Hebert states that the managers are at the root of our employee engagement problems and that "they need to be improved.". Where Gregg Lederman discusses the link between engaged employees and a better customer experience. By paying attention to engagement and by increasing engagement, you will reap the rewards in customer loyalty and revenue.

I believe both ideas are important. It is true, employees don't leave companies they leave their manager. The manager plays a pivotal role in engagement of their employees. There is a ton of research that discusses this relationship and the importance of communication, job expectations, job content and training have on engagement scores. All of which the manager has "control" over.

Maybe managers do need to be improved, but they may need to be engaged as well. They are employees as well. Perhaps, they need leadership and direction from their own managers. So when we discuss employee engagement it should be for ALL employees including our managers.

We have always believed in the relationship of engaged employees and loyal customers. We define the relationship as a "service mirror" or "spillover effect", where customers actually reflecting your employees engagement.

So to answer the initial question should we be concerned about engagement now, I say absolutely yes! I believe the companies that are paying attention to engagement will definitely weather this storm.

So what are some steps you can take to understand who is engaged and who isn't?

1) Make sure your employee survey measures engagement as well as satisfaction
2) Look at your data in a granular way, In other words, slice and dice your data so that you can see which departments, managers, divisions have high and low engagement.
3) Conduct follow ups to get ideas for improvement. Ask your employees they have great ideas.
4) Do this in the spirit of continuous improvement and not a "witch hunt"
5) If possible track customer engagement data to see changes over time after improvements in the employee experience have been made.

What are your thoughts? Is employee engagement so yesterday or is it still in?
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