How to increase employee engagement piece by piece
Less motivation, less productivity.
This maxim can put any company’s talent management strategy at risk, especially because of its potential for contagion.
Sigal Barsade and Hakan Ozcelik, Management professors at Wharton Business School (Philadelphia) and California State University, respectively, state in an article published in HBR that, although an employee’s demotivation may stem from a personal moment of introspection, its consequences can externalize and spread out in the surrounding environment.
In other words, working with demotivated employees can cause a domino effect among other colleagues, turning an individual problem with engagement into a global one.
This also adds other negative ingredients to the mix: in the face of a generalized atmosphere of poor engagement, employees become less resilient. They are less assertive, more apprehensive, less transparent.
The authors highlight that, luckily, there is a vaccine for the demotivation virus.
It is a common issue for everyone in the organization. For higher management, who must allocate the necessary resources to break out of the damaging inertia; and for every infected employee: without the will to take the outstretched hand of the organization’s top management, the process of returning to the other side is surely doomed to failure.
So, what do you need to make the journey back?
Tools and method. Empathy, listening and backing.
Keys to increasing employee engagement: work the collective piece by piece
Avoiding a demotivating domino effect requires almost personalized work. Along those lines, José Luis Risco, Director of Human Resources at EY Spain, highlights in this interview how an increase in engagement requires hard work from his area, which includes “being very flexible and building almost individual strategies”; something that may seem unrealistic, a priori, in the case of organizations like his, with thousands of employees.
For Risco, one of the keys lies in increasing the “feeling of belonging to the organization”. Fortunately, technology and its power to connect people can help. Employee listening programs allow the organization to detect employee needs individually and collectively, to meet those needs to a reasonable extent.
Barsade and Ozcelik, authors of the work discussed at the beginning of this article, also stress the need to “give employees a voice”, on one hand by offering values that are commonly accepted and, on the other hand, by designing individual experiences based on needs detected, which in turn are in line with the organization’s culture.
Risco also underscores the idea, speaking even of an ’employee journey’ that takes into account the employee’s “level, experience and responsibility within the organization, to offer a complete package” that serves the purpose of attracting and developing the employee.
A collective effort where there is more to win than there is to lose, since poor engagement, as Barsade and Ozcelik conclude, “has implications for the entire organization that are difficult to prevent, understand and measure”.
Active listening speaks out in the ENPS.
Zurich Insurance is another company taking advantage of employee listening programs to, among other impacts, increase their engagement. Their program From Employees to Customers seeks to reach clients through employees, offers the latter to participate in the company’s transformation through the community Imagina, open to their ideas and contributions. The project, launched by the insurance company as a pilot in its Spanish division, has improved employee implication and collaboration, resulting in a 34-point increase of the company’s ENPS (Employee Net Promoter Score) only a few months after its launch. [click here for the program’s details and impacts]
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