True Leaders Engage Employees
Many organizations conduct employee engagement surveys to “check the box” and say they did something. They may have a company barbeque or implement a recognition system, to try and move the needle above the prior year’s engagement survey results. But do leaders within these organizations prioritize employee engagement?
According to a 2023 article from PostBeyond, “while the number of engaged employees was 36% in 2020, it went down to 34% in 2021 and now rests at 32%.” This is backed by a Microsoft work trend article which states, “52% of Gen Z and Millennials are likely to consider changing employers this year, up 3 percentage points year-over-year.” These articles/studies indicate a steady decline in the already low employee engagement levels. Why should organizational leaders care about employee engagement?
For the last 2 decades, very little has been done to change the employee engagement numbers within most organizations. I asked one CEO a few years ago why it was not a priority for the organization and was told, “Employee Engagement is too ambiguous. It is not something we track and it is not reported in our EBITA.” Yet, there have been multiple studies conducted on organizations with engaged employees versus organizations with low employee engagement and they always show engagement leads to increased productivity and reduced turnover. The PostBeyond article mentioned above states that engaged employees tend to:
- Deliver 17% more productivity
- Obtain 10% better customer ratings
- Secure 20% more sales
- Experience 41% lower absenteeism
This human element directly affects the longevity and productivity of organizations so it should not be ignored by leaders. So, how are leaders taking control and engaging employees?
I had the honor of working with a client who wanted to kick off this year by implementing a plan to address the employee engagement surveys the organization had conducted last year. The surveys came back with some specific areas the organization wanted to address. First, employees felt that communication and collaboration across departments needed to improve. Second, the employees did not have a true sense of the organizational purpose and what they did. Third, employees felt their contributions were not always appreciated or recognized. These three areas were identified as the biggest opportunities for improvement in the employee engagement surveys.
This executive leader identified key people across departments and functional business units within the company to participate in a program developed to enhance collaboration, increase communication, and give a deeper understanding of the history and purpose of the organization. These key people were identified and recognized as the pilot group that would give their feedback and recommendations on the effectiveness of the program. This leader stood up to kick off the first session with complete transparency describing the results of the employee engagement survey and why it was so important to address the issues identified from the data it provided. The participants of the pilot were empowered to be part of the solution sharing their experience, feedback, and excitement with the executive team and across the rest of the organization.
This was an example of a true leader. This executive leader acknowledged the problem that was voiced by the employees, brought in experts to help develop a solution, and then involved the people within the organization to test the solution. Ultimately, the recommendations and support of the pilot group will help to create more eagerness for other employees to participate and engage in the rollout of this program. This leader took action to enhance collaboration, communication, and employee engagement across the organization. True leaders do not ignore problems, they face them head-on!