If Not You, Who? How to Crack the Code of Employee Disengagement

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Jill Christensen

Employee Engagement is all the rage.  Why?  Let’s start with the fact that per Gallup, only 34 percent of U.S. workers are engaged.  This means the vast majority of employees are sleepwalking though their day, giving companies little discretionary effort. 

Engagement occurs when workers trust leaders and feel an emotional connection to your company – the same way they did their first day on the job.  And the payoff is enormous.  Companies in the top tier of employee engagement outperform their peers by 147 percent in earnings per share.  Additionally, engaged workers provide better customer service, stay longer, make fewer mistakes, are more creative and productive, and are great brand ambassadors. 

What should an employee engagement strategy include?  To engage or re-engage employees, develop a list of action items that your managers (not Human Resources – HR) execute on consistently, which fulfill employee’s basic human needs. 

Culture is defined as how we do things here.  So in order to change your culture, your managers need to do things here differently tomorrow than they are doing here today.  And, we know where managers need to focus, as these areas are proven to impact engagement:

  • The Right Person in Every Chair:  Employees want to work for a company whose values align with their individual values, as it causes them to feel more emotionally connected.  Therefore, hire for a values match as well as a job skills match.  In addition, if you have toxic employees, develop or remove them from your organization.  Why?  Because toxic employees spread negativity and incompetence, impacting the people around them. 
  • Goal Alignment:  Employees want to know that what they do every day has meaning and adds value, so ensure that every person’s goals are aligned with the CEO’s goals.  Why?  When an employee’s goals are aligned with the CEO’s goals, he/she can see that the work they are doing is making a difference.  They are adding value, and positively impacting the company’s future and success.
  • Two-Way Communication Culture:  Employees want their voice to be heard, so build a two-way communication culture where people can express their ideas, opinions, feelings, hopes, dreams and wishes. Why?  When an employee thinks their voice matters, they feel validated and important.  In addition, if you have the right person in every chair, you have smart people working for you.  These people are closest to the customer and have amazing insights about what’s working, what’s not, and what could be improved.  Tap into it.
  • Recognition:  Employees want to feel acknowledged and appreciated for a job well done, so create a recognition program based on thanking people for their great work.  Why?  When you give an employee a company-branded water bottle, you’ve done nothing to let them know specifically what they did that is recognition-worthy.  Put away the bottle and replace it with the words, “Thank you for…”.  These words will inspire employees to give you discretionary effort.

As you embark on a journey to improve employee engagement, remember that it is just that – a journey.  Employee engagement is not a program or an initiative led by HR – it is a strategy.  Successful employee engagement strategies are championed by senior leaders, executed on by managers, and results are measured via an Employee Engagement Survey.  Make the shift today and you can begin realizing benefits tomorrow.  


About the Author: Jill Christensen is an employee engagement expert, best-selling author, and international keynote speaker. A Top 101 Global Employee Engagement Influencer, Jill authored the best-selling book, If Not You, Who?, and holds a Six Sigma Green Belt. Jill can be reached at +1.303.999.9224 or jill@jillchristensenintl.com or http://www.jillchristensenintl.com.

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