Executive Coaching Articles

Highly Engaged Workplace

Recent research from Towers Perrin reveals that U.S. workers remain focused on their jobs despite the tough economic climate, job layoffs, and other business challenges. On the surface, this may seem positive to employers who are concerned about retaining key talent or reducing the costly effects of employee turnover. However, the study also revealed that relatively few of the surveyed employees exhibited high levels of engagement or personal attachment to their jobs.

In short, what this study underscores is that there exists an ever-growing “rational endurance” within the corporate world in which key employees base their desire to stay at a non-engaging or non-fulfilling job they know they should leave solely on the safety, comfort, or security of being employed.

Ultimately, these very contagious feelings of being stuck, paralyzed, or unable to leave their jobs because of a limited job market result in a disengaged or disenchanted workforce focused on doing the absolute minimum in order to collect a paycheck. That leads to the question more and more employers are asking (or should be asking): How can you create a highly engaged workplace so employees don’t leave you high and dry the next time the employment market shifts or there is an up-turn in the economy?

Whether you’re a newly established entrepreneur or president of a Fortunate 500, here are three “creative rules of engagement” that virtually any employer can apply to create a highly engaged workplace:

  1. Create fulfillment by identifying exactly what brings your employees career fulfillment and finding ways to use their diverse skills or interests as opportunities for them to shine. At the same time, encourage them to focus more on what’s right with their jobs than what’s wrong, and never forget to give constant praise. This may sound extremely simple but with reduced staffs, increased workloads, and compressed time schedules, it is easy to forget compliments. People need to know that their efforts for the company are recognized appreciated. After all, you can’t be proud of yourself until somebody’s been proud of you.
  2. Create choice by offering fringe benefits or Quality Life Programs such as family leave, flexible hours, and telecommuting options… or even concierge services like massage sessions, dry cleaning services, emergency baby-sitters, and take-out meals. If none of these options work for your daily operating procedures or bank account, consider offering skills training or continuous learning as incentives to stay.
  3. Create involvement by finding ways to improve your employees’ overall relationship with their jobs and daily responsibilities by including them in decision-making and other company-wide initiatives that allow them to make a difference. Be sure to explain what’s required for your employees to move forward in your organization or department based on your plans for the next one to five years. Have a strong succession plan. Publicize it throughout your organization and share it with key employees regularly. Without a clear-cut understanding of what they have to do to advance or succeed, people quickly become de-motivated. At that point they begin looking for “better” opportunities.

Keep in mind that absolutely none of these rules for increased employee engagement revolve around pay raises. While paying your employees based on performance is a great motivator, the material representation of money is no substitute for giving your employees the gift of complete career fulfillment or a higher sense of purpose in their day to day activities.