Here we share the final part in our leading change series, and that is the imperative for creating employee engagement.
Employee engagement underscores each of the first three principles that we’ve outlined previously; the 20-60-20 rule, understanding the Change Curve, and consciously using a range of leadership styles to suit the circumstance.
Developing an employee engagement strategy – or refreshing one that’s been in place for a while – should be a priority, more so as organisations are increasingly seen to be responsible for delivering value to their employees.
As workforces experience the highs and lows of the Change Curve it’s vital to build and maintain engagement, to ensure productivity doesn’t drop. As ever, the solution lies in effective leadership, widely acknowledged as the key to driving growth and productivity; the goals that so often fuel the pursuit of change.
Over the past few years, research has shown just how great the imperative is for improving employee engagement:
- Up until around 2017, less than one in every three workers in the UK felt they were engaged at work (29% to be exact), putting us ninth in the world’s leading economies. In 2020 however, this figure was reported as having plummeted to just 8%
- Over 20 million UK workers are not actively engaged
- 58% of staff are disengaged within six months of starting work – are people that you have employed recently become disengaged under your leadership?
- 68% of staff have had no feedback from their bosses in the last six months
A few pointers
Here are a few pointers for leaders seeking to make real inroads in this area:
1. Understand the basics of empowerment. Workers respond positively to more responsibility and authority in their daily tasks. Workers also prefer autonomy. In other words, people generally do well when they are empowered to make choices and decisions for themselves.
2. Find out what engages your employees, not someone else’s. While broad research is a valuable resource, it can only take an organisation so far. No theory or model is useful in the abstract. What matters is your business and your people. Ironically, most organisations use engagement results punitively; they focus on what is going wrong, and on why people aren’t as engaged as they could be. A better approach is to figure out what’s already working in your business and find ways to replicate it. Go to the most engaged individuals, teams and business units (i.e. the top 20%), and help others learn from them.
3. Encourage grassroots engagement. Engagement cannot be mandated, but it can be ignited. Once you understand what matters to your employees, you can support its expression and replication far and wide. Empower your people, particularly the most engaged employees, to share stories, exchange ideas and disseminate best practices across the business. A well-designed piece of media, such as a video “starring” members of a thriving team can gain traction and become a source of encouragement for others. With social media and digital workplace technologies, it’s easier than ever to connect employees and make engagement contagious.
4. Recognise engagement as a moving target and check back often. While certain elements of employee engagement will surely hold over time, it’s not something that can be assessed and addressed just once. To keep your organisation engaged, you must remain engaged, curious, and connected yourself.
Each of the 4 parts talked about in our series are core areas looked at on our leadership and management programs, LEAD™, for owner-managers, directors and senior managers, and LEADlight, for middle managers and supervisors.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our leading change series, and will check back next week to read our practical case studies of real-life businesses and what they’ve achieved through leading change.