The second of a five part series.

Employee engagement is the motor that drives the success of any organization. Without it, morale and productivity substantially decline leading to toxic cultures and overall profit loss. The problem is that evolving changes in technology, a decline in soft skills and leadership, and the instability and stress caused by the pandemic contribute to a work experience where employees often feel unheard, unconnected, and unappreciated. 

The pandemic, in particular, has created a lack of belonging at work for at least twenty percent of employees working from home. Interacting in meaningful ways is a serious challenge for remote teams and managers, and the resulting disconnect isn’t going away any time soon. It’s estimated that 36.2 million Americans (22% of the workforce) will be working remotely by 2025. When we already know that employee engagement issues cost U.S. companies almost $600 billion each year, it seems obvious that the time is ripe for a workplace culture (r)evolution. 

Employee Engagement Is A Complex Issue

But there’s no easy fix because employee engagement is a complex issue. You can’t just put a ping pong table in the break room or serve breakfast tacos on Friday. Those types of things are fun but to actually change the dynamics of an organization’s culture, you need a strategy that focuses on the actual needs of the employees. 

So, what do employees need? First and foremost, they need to feel connected to the company’s vision and values. Second, employees need to work in an emotionally safe environment where they feel valued. And last of all, they need ‘evolved’ leadership that models

  • the vision and values of the company
  • empathy
  • effective communication, collaboration and conflict management skills. 

Vision & Values Impact Engagement

Let’s look at the vision and values issue first. Employees want to feel a connection to the companies they work for plain and simple. They want to know that the work they’re doing is important to the overarching vision of the company and that their personal values align with the values of their employer. Recent research, however, has revealed that 61% of employees don’t know their company’s mission statement. And of the employees that do know the company’s mission, 57% are not motivated by it. Ouch. 

This is really bad news because if the company mission statement isn’t known or doesn’t resonate, most employees will only show up to do just enough to get a paycheck. And that is the exact opposite of engagement. To really inspire workers to get on board with a company mission statement, it’s best to include them in creating it. Or at least tweak it enough that it reflects their feedback. And then put it into words that resonate with employees. Once they know what the mission statement is and feel connected to it, they’ll be much more likely to go above and beyond in their roles within the organization.

Beyond the mission statement, though, company values come into play. If these values aren’t mirrored by leadership and kept front and center at all times, issues will arise. For example, if a company claims that integrity, honesty and character-driven leadership are their key values, those values have to be modeled all day every day. Employees want to work for an organization that talks the talk AND walks the walk. 

Employees Have Emotional Needs

The second issue in engagement has to do with the emotional needs of employees. Everyone knows (or they should!) that the most important asset of any organization is its people. But not everyone realizes that to increase employee engagement you have to understand what makes the employees tick. In general, today’s workers are problem solvers who’re determined to spend their time in environments that are motivating, uplifting, and challenging. This applies, in particular, to millennials who want to be valued, recognized for their contributions and feel a sense of belonging to the organizations they work for.

Of course, every age group wants that, but millennials don’t have a problem leaving a job for another one when their needs aren’t met. Companies need to pay attention to this group because they’re now the largest body of workers in the US. In addition, they’re estimated to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2030. This means they’re going to be impacting engagement trends for the foreseeable future. So, if organizational leadership wants to get ahead of the curve, they need to get to know their people pronto. And preferably all of them, not just the millennials!

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People Don’t Quit Their Jobs, They Quit Their Bosses

This leads into the third issue of employee engagement, which is that companies desperately need ‘evolved’ leadership. At Brilliant People™ we talk about culture (r)evolution because companies either need a total culture overhaul or they just need to evolve more. In most cases, people in leadership positions have some great hard skills. The problem is that they’re usually ones that helped them to excel in their previous role. Sadly, this doesn’t mean they know how to lead the people in their new role. 

Ever heard the saying ‘people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses’? Well, it’s true. Almost two-thirds of employees surveyed believe their manager lacks proper managerial training. And they’re not talking about hard skills training. Hard skills don’t enable managers to rally the troops, mediate issues between co-workers or inspire them to high levels of productivity. Only interpersonal skills can do that.  These abilities don’t come naturally to a lot of people, and yet, they are crucial to their individual success and that of the organization as a whole. This means managers, in particular, need soft skills training. 

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How to Improve Employee Engagement

To sum it all up, recent research shows that engagement numbers have stubbornly remained low for the last 20 years. Only one-third of the American workforce spends their days at work fully engaged. To make matters worse, the pandemic has created new issues to compound the old. At Brilliant People we think this is utterly unacceptable. Especially when the tools and training are available to create significant and positive long lasting change. There’s no simple fix, though, because behavior change takes time. This is why we believe our 6-12 month continual learning model is the most effective way to improve employee engagement. Our program allows employees the time needed to develop better soft skills through practice, feedback, and accountability. 

We start by assessing key components of engagement in your organization. Then, based on the findings we offer customized training solutions, and ongoing support. As employees work through our multi-layered program they’ll experience new ways to understand themselves and others, build trust, and engage in productive conflict.  All of which are essential to building a collaborative and cohesive employee base. Without this type of development, fragmentation and negativity occur. And over time, productivity suffers. So, invest in the motor that drives the company. The ROI is really invaluable when you consider that soft skills training results in

  • In depth understanding of self and others at work 
  • Increased trust and collaboration among team members 
  • Improved communication and relationships
  • Increased productivity, recruitment,and retention

So what are you waiting for? Contact us today and join the culture (r)evolution

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