What Can Managers Do to Positively Impact Employee Engagement?

What Managers Can Do to Positively Impact Employee Engagement


What is Employer Engagement and why is it so important?

Employer engagement is when an organization is “actively committed to improving the employee value proposition.”  These organizations realize the importance of retaining talented employees by staying engaged with their employees and actively seeking to understand and act on employee expectations and preferences.

Several studies have researched, “What drives engagement?”.  These factors range from the employee-manager relationship to a challenging work environment, a company’s focus on customers, outstanding performance recognition, and career development opportunities. By understanding the most important factors that drive engagement, HR leaders are able to develop more effective engagement programs.

A more compelling outcome of research, however, shows that an engaged workforce impacts business performance and ultimately, shareholder value.  Companies with higher percentages of engaged employees perform better than their industry peers.  Researchers have validated the impact of employee engagement and HR best practices on business performance.

The costs of disengaged employees and unwanted attrition are well understood. According to four different studies, the impact of lower employee engagement scores is pretty startling:

  • 12% lower profits
  • 19% lower operating income
  • 28% lower earnings per share

While higher employee engagement scores correlate to:

  • 18% greater productivity
  • 12% higher customer satisfaction
  • 51% less voluntary turnover

Engaged employees are people that are highly motivated and vested in the success of their organizations and are willing to make an extra, discretionary effort in their daily work.  They are passionate, talented, high performers who are willing to invest in their careers and commitment to the organization.

What Drives Employee Engagement?

  • Employee perceptions of job importance
  • Employee clarity of job expectations.
  • Career advancement/improvement opportunities
  • Regular feedback and dialogue with superiors
  • Quality of working relationships with peers, superiors, and subordinates
  • Perceptions of the ethics and values of the organization
  • Effective Internal Employee Communications
  • Tangible and Intangible rewards to engage employees

The Impact of Employee Engagement Correlates with an Aligned Talent Management Strategy

Talent management processes directly impact employee engagement.  As a part of their business case, companies should link talent management processes to business goals and address pressing engagement challenges.

The goals of an aligned talent management strategy include:

  1. Hire great people
  2. Ensure they are properly trained
  3. Align their goals to corporate strategy
  4. Reward top performance
  5. Provide timely motivation to retain the best employees

Building the Value Proposition

The Value Proposition becomes the driver of engagement, and is communicated in the recruitment process and branding. It contains messages about what the organization values about people, it’s products and services, and what you can expect by working or doing business with them.

The Value Proposition supports employee engagement by:

  • Helps to retain talent
  • Appeal to different markets
  • Re-engage the Workforce
  • Prioritize HR Initiatives
  • Create a Strong People Brand
  • Increase attractiveness as an Employer


Best Practices in Employee Engagement: How to build a Employee Engagement Culture

1. Engage employees early and often. It’s important to make a good first impression with your new hires. Your recruitment strategy supports your value proposition. Every experience encountered by those entering the recruitment system through hiring should be engaging.

2. Use technology to engage new hires. Streamline the recruitment and hiring process and use the latest technology so employees can complete this portion of the onboarding process more quickly.

3. Get managers involved with employee engagement. Train your managers on how to onboard effectively and help employees feel welcome to the team.

4. Create a strong internal social network to engage employees. Help them build relationships and introduce them to coworkers so they feel welcome and valued.  Assign the new hire a mentor or buddy and introduce them prior to the start of the engagement.

5. Set them up for success. Introduce them to key leadership, clients, and business partners to help them onboard quickly and learn their role and who the key players are.

6. Engage employees in your company’s cultural values. Introduce new hires to the company’s cultural values –give examples, tell stories.  Start this early and continue consistently throughout the employee’s engagement.

7. Establish clear performance expectations. Give employees their job descriptions and written outlines of their performance objectives upfront. Schedule regular performance conversations to mutually discuss progress.  Give feedback frequently and spontaneously.

Effective onboarding can enhance employee engagement, increase productivity, and ultimately, lead to higher rates of retention. Give your employees a superior employer experience so they won’t want to leave.

How Can You Measure Employee Engagement?

Several measurement criteria are used to measure employee engagement:

1. Employee Engagement Survey

Measures employee satisfaction with:

  • Organizational alignment and systems
  • Management practices
  • Overall employee engagement index
  • The likelihood employees will leave your company within the next twelve months.

2. Employee Retention Profile

The Employee Retention Profile analyzes employee risk of departure. Report findings and recommendations address:

  • Current state of employee engagement
  • Key retention risk factors by target group
  • Alignment of existing organizational systems & management practices for engagement & retention
  • Recommended strategies for improvement

3. Supplementary Program Components

These activities identify critical issues impacting employee engagement:

  • Focus Groups for specific departments or populations to explore why those employees stay with or leave the company; early warning signals that have been observed; and retention best practices currently in use.
  • Organizational Systems Review to assess the strengths and potential vulnerabilities of existing systems for: recruitment and hiring, orientation and assimilation, performance management, learning and professional growth, career development, quality of work/life balance, and compensation and benefits.
  • Review and analysis of exit interview data, gathered either with the Exit Interviewing Service or via your organization’s existing HR processes.

4. Target Your Engagement and Retention Issues

Additional activities to identify the root cause and help create a systemic solution:

  • Exit Interviews

Exit Interviewing is an ongoing measurement tool to capture the real reasons why employees leave.

  • Employee Retention for Managers

Train manager to recruit and retain high-quality, productive employees through behavioral interviewing.  Encourage managers to discuss employee satisfaction with their job, teams, leadership to identify their risk of departure and follow-up with action planning, and career coaching.

  • New Employee Orientation, On-Boarding, and Assimilation

Provide new employees with new employee orientation followed by department orientation and onboarding to provide a clear preview of the company culture and the information needed to get off to a fast start.  Provide new managers with a quick start on how to effectively hire, onboard, coach, and engage their new staff and responsibilities.

What can managers do to positively impact Employee Engagement?

  • Provide desirable and challenging assignments.
  • Help employees prioritize their own development.
  • Show appreciation for and recognize good work.
  • Treat employees fairly.
  • Provide assignments that enable employees to do work in ways that fit their social styles.
  • Communicate clearly with, and listen to, employees.
  • Build an enjoyable and fulfilling climate.
  • Coach people. Provide them helpful and objective feedback.
  • Share information.
  • Capitalize on the diverse strengths and experiences of staff members.
  • Have enough meetings and sharing so that people feel like a team.

Organizations that are actively seeking to understand and act on employee expectations and preferences will see higher percentages of engaged employees and perform better than their industry peers.  By understanding the most important factors that drive engagement, leaders are able to develop more effective engagement programs, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and profitability for the company and its shareholders.

About the Author: Nancy Zentis, Ph.D., is the Founder and CEO of the Institute of Organization Development (IOD) providing online and classroom certification programs in Organization Development, Human Resource Business Partners, Talent Management, Executive Coaching, and Leadership Development, providing certification programs for more than 20 years to over 2500 participants in more than 30 countries


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