What is employee engagement?

Back to Top My definition of employee engagement is based both on my personal experience with teams and on the criteria of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The Baldrige criteria define employee engagement as the extent to which workforce commitment, both emotional and intellectual, exists relative to accomplishing the work, mission, and vision of the organization. I see engagement as a heightened level of ownership where each employee wants to do whatever they can for the benefit of their internal and external customers, and for the success of the organization as a whole. For people to be engaged, they have to be given the time and mechanisms to get involved. They have to believe that their personal contributions matter, and they have to be keenly aware of the connection that exists between their daily personal actions and decisions and the success of the organization. Engagement also implies the existence of strong, meaningful relationships. Sustained organizational success is all about creating effective relationships between customers and team members. Think of your teams like a set of gears - if each of the gear teeth (each person), as well as the gears themselves (your teams), are not properly and consistently engaged, mechanical efficiency will be lost to some degree. Why do I really need to engage a high percentage of my people? Back to Top Gauging true employee engagement involves looking at the degree to each employee is connected. In turn, by looking at the percentage of your workforce that you involve in decision making activities, planning efforts, problem solving, personal development events, customer contacts, and team-based work, you can get a better idea of how engaged your people are and where your engagement deficiencies might be. Unfortunately, most organizations only engage a small percentage of their people in activities that extent beyond the daily processes they are responsible for. If you doubt my opinion, do a self check by looking at how your people, at all levels, spend their time at work and the mix of people that are involved in those activities that have been traditionally reserved for middle and upper management. If you understand the gear analogy I made in defining the term 'engagement', the need for high engagement percentages is obvious. I believe that there is a direct correlation between engagement levels and organizational success - as engagement levels rise across a variety of activity types, the number of gear teeth and gears that are meshing goes up, in turn leading the organizational machine to higher levels of performance. Greater engagement and stronger relationships create greater levels of understanding and ownership - if people understand what their customers want and why they want those things, your people are more apt to make decisions and take actions that are consistent with those needs. If your people have a greater understanding of what the organization is trying to accomplish, and how organizational success will affect their own personal success and growth, they are more likely to consistently behave and act in a manner that supports the mission and vision of the organization, as opposed to working only to support their own personal needs or to keep their boss happy. How do I engage more of my people in pursuing the goals of the organization? Back to Top To increase engagement levels, you have to do two key things. First, you have to change

000 hours a year also provides an effective means of assessing engagement levels. what percentage of your people spend time on training each year? What percentage of each person's work time is spent attending monthly performance updates or annual planning sessions? How many hours a year does the average employee spend with at least one external customer? Percentages can also be used to gauge the number of people in your workforce that have access to performance information on the company intranet. and specialized. people have to spend their time at work a little bit differently each have to decide that it makes sense to involve all levels of your workforce in those activities that have traditionally reserved for members of management. receive updates on performance to company goals and objectives. The surveybased measurement approach can be as simple as asking a question on the annual employee opinion survey. even the middle and front line leaders are not involved in planning and personal development to the degree that they should be. What is the most “critical factor” for achieving higher levels of employee engagement? Back to Top Outside of the information access and job design change decisions that upper managers must make. Doing a spreadsheet or database-based analysis of how your people spend their 2. Unfortunately. The second change you have to agree too is perhaps the tougher one to make. In other words. but the high performing organizations at minimum will ask multiple questions of an engagement nature to gauge the degree to which each of the approaches that they are using to engage the workforce are effectively working. personal time investment analysis. even though the costs involved are very low . For example. but at the same time. The time required to attend a monthly performance review meeting. participate in an annual improvement or planning day. engagement will not occur. In particular. the benefits realized from these investments will far outweigh the costs. without trust. We're not talking about massive changes here. and attend two to three hours of training or group problem solving a month does not really take that big of a dent out of the 2. the most critical factor that can help or hinder engagement levels lies in the abilities of EACH of your process owners to promote and increase engagement levels. a 3% impact on time will be felt. A team infrastructure matrix can be used to give you a quick look at team involvement levels.job designs and job descriptions. in many organizations. Upper organizational leadership is often afraid to share what is thought to be sensitive information because they don't trust their people. and information access analysis. surveying as well. systemic circle that can be spinning in either the positive (growth) or negative (erosion) direction. It is a vicious. and if these events are properly designed and facilitated. How can I measure my current level of employee engagement? Back to Top There are three primary ways in which engagement levels can be measured . trust levels cannot be increased without developing the stronger relationships that are part of true engagement. or participate in team meetings of some type.employee surveys. the performance of your front line supervisors in this area is most critical. A . Sadly. If only these example activities are used to increase engagement levels.000 hours a year the average person spends at work. Those organizations that are willing to give each employee an e-mail address and some form of intranet access are discovering that such connectivity allows for more frequent.

such as employee . work environment. For true engagement to both exist and improve over time. one mechanism for increasing engagement levels lies in the structure of your compensation system. formal recognition for team successes should exist for all teams. why do they exist. Front line leaders are the key to developing stronger relationships between internal customers. formal recognition opportunities. How can Great Systems! help me increase my employee engagement levels in a meaningful way? Back to Top Great Systems! can help you assess your current employee engagement levels and develop a plan for increasing those levels over time. Unfair. Similarly. that far too many companies ignore. let alone increase. you have to require them to demonstrate effective facilitation skills and prove the degree to which they are engaging their people in a formal manner on a regular basis. and how do these differences affect engagement levels? There are some compensation system best practices that are used by high performing organizations to help drive up engagement levels. In order to develop effective engagement skills in each of your leaders. and they must be expected to demonstrate increased skill proficiency in these areas as time passes. such as work environment. I strongly believe however that people will quickly become demotivated if they get the impression that a compensation system is not fair. or even the secondary. or poorly deployed. What types of compensation differences exist between organizational levels? Who gets the perks and who doesn't. Most importantly. not just those at the top. it also focuses on much more than pay .very high majority of your people get daily information about what the organization is trying to accomplish from these people. One of the key practices involves extending some form of profit sharing to all employees. you should strive to design a compensation system that is fair . These people also decide how much effort they are willing to make to 'free people up' to attend training or participate in team meetings. What is the link between compensation practices and employee engagement levels? Back to Top I want to start off by saying that I have learned that money is much more a demotivator than it is a motivator. reason why people do things that they are expected to do at work. benefit. That said. and they are often the people that expected to effectively lead most of the training and meetings the bulk of your workforce attends. both intentionally and unintentionally. and benefits. and recognition differences exist across the organization. and what perceptions exist relative to what has to be done in order to become one of the haves. the front line leaders have to be involved themselves and be capable of demonstrating that they are personally involved and effective in involving their people. Keep in mind however that while the "What's in it for me?" question is very pervasive and powerful. In other words. compensation systems will drive down engagement levels. Too many organizations fail to that appropriately recognizes each employee based on the contributions they make to the success of the organization (one that is not based simply on one's job title). I don't think money is the primary. instead of being a have not? What types of pay rate. I can help you design and install more effective work systems to help drive up engagement sure to look at other forms of compensation. These expectations have to be part of their job description. the skills of their leaders in these key areas.

I believe that this fact will become more and more important as our workforces become more diverse and the expectations of our customers continue to shift and grow. This includes recruitment into the company. • Joining and staying in the organization. and interpreted in conjunction with the current and future required culture in the organization. These indicators relate to meeting or exceeding standards of job . High levels of employee engagement are requisite for sustained. those skills that are needed to effectively lead and facilitate team meetings. This is then the benchmark that the research organization/ provider uses. WORKSHOPS | WORKBOOKS | ARTICLES | Employee Engagement and Satisfaction Models Research into Employee Engagement and Satisfaction There are many models on the market and each provider claims that their model is based on empirical research.opinion survey. greater results will follow. and practice. So are they all correct or are they all incorrect? The jury is out on this. low absenteeism and low turnover. however for each organization that undertakes this they appear to arrive at different conclusions. What we do know is that no two organizations are the same and that the prevailing culture makes a great deal of difference in the results. If you do so. • Dependable behaviour. recognition. For this I am sure. I invite you to learn to do what the high performers have already proven as being effective . and team infrastructure processes. best in class performance levels. so for instance one organization may score high in some and low in other factors. Katz and Kahn Identified three levels.change your work systems to foster higher levels of workforce engagement. I can also provide you with workshops that are designed to help you learn more about. along with business performance measures. or supervise in a manner that helps build more effective teams and higher levels of engagement. the net result is that they score x. build stronger relationships between internal and external customers. but that fact that the same factors are measured repeatedly over time. Using normative data also takes the edge off of excellent organizations. The important driver The key driver in measuring employee engagement and satisfaction is not necessarily a particular set of factors.

• Engaged but leaving. Actively Disengaged For reasons of copyright the questions are not listed here although a simple internet search will list them. From . The Three Types of Employees identified by Gallup are: 1. a 12-question survey that identifies strong feelings of employee engagement. • Disengaged Gallup Q12 . Not Engaged 3. Engaged 2. make suggestions to improve the organization. CIPD research To help identify common factors in employee engagement the CIPD commissioned Kingston University and Ipsos/MORI to undertake a survey of employee attitudes.normal>Productivity and • Safety After extensive research including hundreds of focus groups and thousands of interviews with employees in a variety of industries Gallup came up with the Q12.performance.normal>Customer loyalty <LI class=.normal>Profitability <LI class=. and work to improve the organization's standing in the external environment. Towers and Perrin Have four degrees of engagement: • Actively engaged.normal>Retention <LI class=.Employee Engagement No page on the net looking at Employee engagement would be complete without looking at the Gallup Q12. • Engaged. Results from the survey appear to show a strong correlation between high scores and superior job performance. • Innovative behaviour This level goes beyond individual roles to how people collaborate with colleagues. Gallup began creating a measurement and feedback system for employers that would identify elements of employee engagement closely linked to the bottom line. Factors such as: • <LI class=.

normal>Identification (rational) <LI class=.Team Orientation Job Design --.normal>Commitment (Normative & Continuance) <LI class=.normal>Engagement (emotional) <LI class=.normal>Team Orientation o Motivation Compatibility Critical Employee Value Proposition (EVP) Drivers and Impacts o Employer Contribution -v.Compatibility The RapidBI Employee Engagement and Satisfaction Survey (EESS) The EESS looks at the following scales: o <LI class=normal>Clarity <LI class=normal>Communications <LI class=normal>Effective Management <LI class=normal>Engagement <LI class=normal>Environment <LI class=normal>Equal Opportunities <LI class=normal>Health and Safety <LI class=normal>HR Policy <LI class=normal>Induction <LI class=normal>Loyalty <LI class=normal>Personal Growth <LI class=normal>Retention .normal>Skills and Workload <LI class=.Identification Belonging --.Employee Contribution Corporate Appeal --.this research they determined that Engagement can be said to have three dimensions: • Emotional engagement .normal>Commitment & Engagement <LI class=.being willing to 'go the extra mile' for your employer.normal>Affective <LI class=.Motivation Working Conditions --. • From BSI consulting In a white paper looking at Employee Engagement they identify the following scales: o <LI class=.being very involved emotionally with one's work Cognitive engagement .Engagement Leadership --.normal>Identification <LI class=.normal>Performance & Motivation <LI class=.focusing very hard whilst at work Physical engagement .

Burke company Employee Engagement Index .<LI class=normal>Team Spirit o Trust Employee Engagement Index . • Employee loyalty to their contact centre.EEI Burke takes a different approach and look at populations and target audiences and how they answer key questions. • Employee attitude towards the products or services they are providing.EEI The Employee Engagement Index is the average of the three scales: • <LI class=normal>Organisational Commitment. <LI class=normal>Job Satisfaction. • Employee attitude towards their role. recognition and control structures. or drivers. • Employee attitude towards their immediate management. you can summarise employee engagement with these four primary principles. motivation. • Managers who respect and appreciate their employees. Kenexa has also come up with the Kenexa Employee Engagement Index. • Employers who display a genuine responsibility to employees and communities. • Employee attitude towards their company. Kenexa Employee Engagement Index .EEI According to a survey by Kenexa. that show that workers are engaged by: • Leaders who inspire confidence in the future. • Exciting work that employees know how to do. • Intention To Stay. which comprises four key components: • Pride • Satisfaction • Advocacy and • Retention Components of Index (Insight now) Have an instrument called the Employee Engagement Index in which the index is broken down into the following segments: • Employee attitude towards their customers. • Company • Work Group • Career/ Profession . contribution and development.

Leadership and direction 13. Mercer .Employee Engagement Mercer's research "What's Working?" surveys have gathered data from a cross-section of industries. customer loyalty. Immediate manager 10. BCWI Employee Engagement Index . These surveys had questions grouped into 13 dimensions: 1. Benefits 4. Work processes 2. Teamwork and cooperation 8. Job security and career growth 7. Performance management 11. Communication 5. Ethics and integrity 9. including opportunities for development • Confidence and trust in leadership engagement • Recognition and rewards • Organizational communication .• Customer/ Client • Job • Manager They believe that there is a significant link between employee engagement. and profitability. Compensation 12.EEI This organisation uses a simple three scale approach: • Engaged • Neutral • Unengaged This data is collected from BCWI's 15 item scale of employee engagement includes items assessing employees' sense of their own growth in and fit with an organization as well as their beliefs about how much impact employees have on the organization and its leaders. Work/life balance 6. Training and development From these dimensions Mercer Identified four global drivers: • The work itself. Quality and customer focus 3.

they outperform individuals and teams which lack good relationships.Then using further data from this research they developed Mercer's Employee Engagement Model©: • Satisfied --> Motivated --> Committed --> Advocate • Employee Engagement . They take a multi-faceted approach to address problem areas and improve . o Convey: Leaders clarify their expectations about employees and provide feedback on their functioning in the organization. o Confidence: Good leaders help create confidence in a company by being exemplars of high ethical and performance standards. Success in life and organizations is. hearts.people or leadership? How can leaders engage heads. Blessing White . and they do so a lot. they coach and convey. and hands of their people? An article in Ivey Business Journal believes that by starting to apply the following 10 C's of employee engagement: o o Connect: Leaders must show that they value employees.Employee Engagement According to Blessing White: o "the most successful organizations make engagement an ongoing priority. determined by how clear individuals are about their goals and what they really want to achieve. o Clarity: Leaders must communicate a clear vision. Looking at the above list it seems that many of the characteristics are about practising effective leadership. o Control: Employees value control over the flow and pace of their jobs and leaders can create opportunities for employees to exercise this control. when employees work in teams and have the trust and cooperation of their team members. Most people want to do new things in their job. o Career: Leaders should provide challenging and meaningful work with opportunities for career advancement. o Contribute: People want to know that their input matters and that they are contributing to the organization's success in a meaningful way. o Collaborate: Studies show that. it's about effective leadership. not a once-ayear event. o Congratulate: Exceptional leaders give recognition. Employee engagement is not about the employees. to a great extent. o Credibility: Leaders should strive to maintain a company�??s reputation and demonstrate high ethical standards. Employee engagement is a direct reflection of how employees feel about their relationship with the immediate boss.

o Align. . o Survey less. align . align.don't rely purely on an employee engagement survey to drive your strategy In many of their Employee Engagement Surveys and research this organization use the following criteria: o Disengaged --> Crash & Burn --> Newlyweds & Hamsters --> Almost Engaged --> Fully Engaged In one report they also use the scale: Disengaged --> Crash & Burn --> Honeymooners & Hamsters --> Almost Engaged --> Fully Engaged For more information and research visit the Blessing White site. recognition and incentive systems o Availability of effective leadership Many other factors exist that might apply to your particular organization and the importance of these factors will also vary within your organization. o Redefine career . Factors of Employee Engagement Many organizational factors influence employee engagement and retention such as: o A culture of respect where outstanding work is valued o Clear job expectations o Adequate tools to complete work responsibilities o High levels of motivation o Availability of constructive feedback and mentoring o Opportunity for advancement and professional development o Fair and appropriate reward.culture and employee motivation go hand-in-hand.employees need line-of-sight on their future to be truly engaged. o Pay attention to culture .engagement scores organization wide. act more ." The best practices include: o Maximise managers .clarify strategy and organizational goals.they are the main connection in the employee engagement equation.

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