Engaging Employees to Increase Engagement
By Kevin Eikenberry
Our guest blogger Kevin Eikenberry is an expert on team and leadership development and is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group. He leads the Bud to Boss training seminars, and his client list includes the American Red Cross, Chevron, John Deere, Purdue University, Southwest Airlines, TriHealth, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Mint.
Leaders everywhere these days are talking about how to create more engaged employees. Consultants, authors, and speakers are consulting, writing, and speaking about the importance of increased employee engagement.
It is a trend that makes good sense.
In Gallup’s most recent survey, they found only 28% of employees actively engaged, which they define as:
Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.
28% engaged, means 72%, at some level, aren’t.
Many studies have found nearly immediate and drastically positive correlations between increased engagement and higher productivity and profitability (among many other wonderful outcomes).
And the issue is important for human reasons too – it is just the right thing to do, to have a place and an environment where people can spend so many hours being closer to their best selves, rather than waiting for quitting time and their paycheck.
The best recent work I’ve read about employee engagement, isn’t about employees at all, but about students. Students at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, Indiana have been involved in helping the school decide how to create greater student engagement.
The research they have done is described by my friend and former Indiana State Teacher of the Year, Byron Ernest, on his Byron’s Babbles blog. Over a couple of posts, he talks about their overall process. I encourage you to read this post as a supplement to my thoughts that follow. Here is their process:
1. Ask students what teachers need to do to keep them engaged.
2. Ask students what they need to do be more engaged.
Could it be more obvious and brilliant than this?
Here are the results in short.
Students about Teachers
Students said they are best engaged (and learn best) with teachers who:
• are passionate and energetic.
• are prepared and creative.
• provide material that is relevant to them.
• genuinely care about them.
Would you be a more engaged employee if your supervisor/manager/leader was energetic, passionate, prepared, provided relevance, and cared about you?
Put it where you can read it everyday – it is a good list.
Students about Students
If you want greater engagement, why not ask the people, whom you want to be engaged, what role they play? (Have you done this with your team or organization as a whole?)
The student’s themes about what they could do to be more engaged included:
• Get more sleep.
• Eat breakfast.
• Maintain positive attitude and motivation.
• Show respect/be respectful.
• Take responsibility/have a good work ethic.
• Be committed.
• Be actively involved.
This list might not seem directly related to the workplace, but you might be surprised – how often do you find yourself tired at work or skipping breakfast, for example? While this list itself maybe useful, the big key here is asking people what they can do.
If the goal is to increase engagement, you must engage those you want engaged in creating the goals and the means for reaching them.
If you are thinking about and working on employee engagement for your team or organization, before you hire another consultant or schedule another leadership retreat, read this post again. There are many lessons here, ready for application.
Here’s a place to begin:
Stop thinking and start engaging.
This post originally appeared in the Leadership & Learning with Kevin Eikenberry blog.