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Employee Engagement - taking a look at the signs which indicate all may not be well
What is the relationship like between your business and its employees? More importantly, how engaged are they in the aims and values of the business? Simple questions, but knowing the answers could make the difference between long term success and the closure of the business.
I’m not going to go into the statistics here. Plenty of articles have followed that route before me, proving over and over again that engaged employees equate to growth, profitability and a strong reputation. But what I am going to do is take another look at the signs which indicate that all may not be well.
Of course, sometimes those signs are unavoidable. Take the resignation letter which is going the rounds at the time of writing. Prefacing each statement with I’m sorry the writer lists a number of scenarios including their mother dying, them becoming ill and them having to make doctor’s appointments in work time thanks to working a 47.5 hour week without paid overtime; all of which reading between the lines had led to an absence from work which their boss had not been happy about. If true then there is some hard work ahead to boost leadership skills and organisational culture before the failure in engagement can be addressed.
But aside from scenarios such as this, what signs should leaders be looking for if they value employee engagement? It sounds simple but the first and most obvious sign is that the antenna which all leaders who are in tune with their organisation carry subconsciously starts to beep. If something feels wrong then it generally is although putting your finger on what exactly is wrong is not always as easy.
Then there are the more blatant signals. From the employee perspective these range from an increase in employee absenteeism and sickness to raised levels of employee turnover. Inter-departmental bickering also comes into this category as does a distinctly cool atmosphere around the coffee machine. As employees start to become more disengaged wastage and errors increase, productivity falls and the relationship with customers and suppliers starts to break down.
One of the hardest scenarios for leaders to pick up can be the single department which is drifting off course whilst all others stay on track. Eventually dissatisfaction will start to spread but in the first instance it can be all too easy to blame problems on a change in staff or a new project. By the time the true cause is discovered there will be some tough times ahead to re-instil a feeling of engagement.
And this brings me on to the next warning about engagement levels. Never assume that you know the problem unless you have really taken the time to delve deeply into the situation. That surface failure may be hiding something far deeper and if you set off trying to solve x when y is really the problem then you can easily make things worse.
Depressed enough? Well there is a simple solution and that is to keep on top of engagement on an ongoing basis. When people are aligned with strategy, when they feel valued and cared for then there is far less chance of engagement levels falling away. What is the relationship between your business and its employees? By keeping engagement to the fore it might just be a mutually beneficial one.