Increasing Employee Engagement in the Digital Age
Some employees show up, do their job, and go home. They are physically engaged in their work. Others show up, work with passion, and feel a profound connection to their team and organization. These are psychologically and emotionally engaged.
It’s no surprise that a study of 65 firms from different industries found that the top 25% on an engagement index had a greater ROA, profitability, and more than double the shareholder value compared to the bottom 25%.
Employee engagement has been linked to individual job performance and organizational-level outcomes, such as customer satisfaction, productivity, profitability, turnover, and safety.
You want engaged employees.
Without employee engagement, you cannot execute on your business strategy or achieve your business goals if everyone is swimming in opposite directions
Three Types of Employee Engagement
Social scientists (Meere, 2005) describe three types of employee engagement:
- Engaged-employees who work with passion and feel a profound connection to their organization. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.
- Not engaged- employees who attend and participate at work but are time serving and put no passion or energy into their work.
- Disengaged –employees who are unhappy at work and who act out their unhappiness at work. These employees undermine the work of their engaged colleagues every time.
Employees, which includes all levels of management and non-management, will fall somewhere within this spectrum. The larger the company, the more likely you’ll find disengaged or not-engaged middle management. Likewise, as companies grow they will encounter more non-engaged employees who, if left unchecked, will become fully disengaged.
Ironically, flat organizations (no middle management) will also experience employee disengagement as senior management “pushes” more out to and collaborates less with everyone else (a natural result of growth).
Employee disengagement is a common side effect of growth. As employees gain distance from the purpose/cause/passion of the organization and increasing job demands shortcut face-to-face communication, they will become less personally motivated to go the extra mile. Working hard is not the same as being engaged.
Increasing the Engagement of Your Employees
As a business leader, you can influence the extent to which your employees are engaged at work, despite the myriad of life events over which you have no control. Certain factors have been studied and shown to have a positive effect on engagement:
- Social support from supervisors and coworkers
- Regular performance feedback
- Greater autonomy
- Positive challenges
- Transparent, open communication
Challenges of a Digital Age
Much of our communication today is through email, text messaging, and in larger companies, cloud-based digital communication. We lack both face-to-face communication and consistency.
Support, feedback, and communication are susceptible to misinterpretation and serious dilution because they are handled digitally and usually by many people in a variety of ways.
Engaged organizations create a strong CONNECTION between the culture, values, vision, strategic goals, challenges, and personal opportunities.
You can increase the connection between the culture, values, vision, goals, challenges and personal opportunities in your company by:
- First, get 100% agreement among the leaders on who, what, why, how, when, etc.;
- Communicate this agreement to the entire company face-to-face quarterly;
- Review quarterly with each employee your vision, their quarterly goals, and how their specific roles mesh with where the company is going. (In EOS® we call this the 5-5-5).
Increasing employee engagement needn’t be hard, but it will take time. You must find ways to connect your vision to each employee on a personal level, ensure that you’ve got the right people in the right seats, and have the entire leadership team 100% all rowing in the same direction.