How Do You Engage with Your Employees?

Comments (0) Business, May 2019 KW Magazine

One of the latest business buzzwords this year is EX, or the employee experience. Organizations are beginning to realize that they need to create a positive employee experience in the same way they have focused on the customer experience. In this ever-tightening job market, it’s mission critical to keep employees happy, fulfilled and challenged. Only then can they keep their customers happy. Focusing on EX means evaluating an employee’s entire life cycle with the company, from before they even apply for a job to beyond their last day. It’s so critical that Forbes even dubbed 2018 the Year of the Employee Experience.

What is the EX, exactly? EX is not just about what it’s like to work day-to-day in the office, and it’s not about benefits, half-day Fridays, sleeping pods, beer fridges in the break room and other fun perks, though those things do enter into it. But EX is deeper and more meaningful than that. It’s about truly engaging employees. Employee engagement (EE) and EX are intertwined so closely they can be called one and the same.

The problem with EE: There’s a disconnect

In a recent study, Dale Carnegie found that 70 percent of top executives believe that employee engagement has a strong impact on financial performance. In a similar study, Deloitte found that 85 percent of company leaders say EE is an important strategic priority, but Dale Carnegie found that just 31 percent of front-line employees and managers strongly agreed that their company is actually making engagement a top priority.

Clearly, there’s a disconnect between what execs are saying and what employees are feeling. That’s because there’s a piece left out of this puzzle: the employees’ managers.

The key to aligning executive priorities with what employees are experiencing lies in the management chain. Managers need to be enabled and empowered to engage their teams on a daily basis. It means getting managers the training they need to engage their teams, by making it a strategic priority and creating a culture of engagement. Dale Carnegie programs teach the skills managers need and can help organizations do the right things to increase overall employee engagement.

Ways to increase employee engagement

Focus on getting managers and supervisors the skills they need. Immediate supervisors and managers are on the front lines of employee engagement. Leaders at all levels need to understand that the way they interact with their employees and direct reports matters to the company’s bottom line. Open a dialogue with managers about EE, and listen to what they’re saying about what works and what doesn’t, and if they’re frustrated, give them the tools and training necessary for change.
Get CEO buy-in. If your CEO does not have employee engagement on his or her priority list, the effort is doomed to fail. Make sure the CEO has the facts on employee engagement, and the knowledge that it needs to start at the top. EE needs to be treated like any other strategic priority.

Align policies with EE. You need employee-supportive policies and procedures, such as a standard performance evaluation policy. But it also means changing policies that are barriers to engagement. Are there processes and procedures working at cross-purpose with engagement efforts? If so, change them. How are your rewards and recognition programs designed? What do you reward and recognize? Are they making your employees feel valued? It requires going through your policies with a critical eye, and the willingness to change what’s not working.

Employee engagement needs to be on the top of the priority list for top executives, managers and supervisors, and that’s no easy task. But in this ever-tightening job market, with greener grass just a click away on a job seeker’s app, keeping all of your employees happy, engaged and fulfilled is the key to your company’s competitive advantage.

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