We continue this week to explore the opportunity to maximize the human potential of an organization. One where we "focus on bringing out the best in its people through communication, trust, celebration, respect, continuous improvement, and responsible freedom" that is the "Why" for Bob Chapman, the Chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller. Employees must trust their leadership to bring out their best, which was last week's focus. The answer to the article title is that everyone in an organization has a responsibility to improve employee engagement. However, one group plays a significant role. We will now look at the role of management as an essential element in improving employee engagement.
"Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability." - Anne Mulcahy
Research by McKinsey & Company found that the most critical factors for employees are a social and psychological sense of belonging where they feel valued by their manager and organization. For all income levels, employee job satisfaction requires an exciting job with desirable interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, delighted employees would enjoy a paid position, even if they did not need an income. If we care for our employees, then the right thing to do is to see that they have meaningful interpersonal relationships. If we embrace this responsibility to create a desirable work environment for our employees, we must understand how to develop a culture of high-level employee engagement.
Gallup has found that managers determine seventy percent of the variance in team engagement. They recommend that organizations set the primary responsibility of managers to focus on improving employee engagement. In this work, they should adopt the following:
• Clarifying the position responsibilities for each employee
• Advocating and supporting them when necessary
• Helping employees understand how their work promotes organizational success
Most managers lack the skill to develop a rapport with their employees through regular and meaningful conversations. If they suddenly do so without proper training, they may come across as micromanaging. Instead, to support their managers in making a successful transition to becoming champions of employee engagement, leaders must:
• Align roles and responsibilities to ensure high-level employee engagement
• Ensure that their managers receive the training and tools to coach those in their area of care effectively
• Develop accurate performance measures and accountability standards for managers with ongoing coaching to improve continually.
Employee engagement will increase as managers develop these new skills in a supportive environment. The result is that employees receiving meaningful daily feedback from their managers are three times more likely to be engaged than those getting it yearly or less.
Authors of a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article found 1,500 articles on the topic of engagement in 2020. An overall review of the academic literature led to development of the Employee Engagement Checklist comprising twenty essential elements. They state that an organization has been successful in infusing employee engagement when their workforce:
• Feels committed to an organization
• Identifies with an organization
• Feels satisfied with their job
• Feels energized at work
Their Employee Engagement Checklist provides actions to increase workforce engagement in three essential areas:
• Connect what employees do to what they care about
• Make the work itself less stressful and more enjoyable
• Create time affluence
They end the article by encouraging leaders to take proactive measures to avoid losing their workforce by increasing employee engagement. The work requires leaders to use the data and theory to develop a plan that pulls the appropriate levers to gain full employee engagement.
We might feel compelled to improve the social and psychological sense of belonging but wonder if we should disrupt the status quo. After all, the company is performing reasonably well. While there may be some initial drop-off in organizational performance as the work to improve employee engagement begins, the potential benefits are extraordinary. For example, the research by Gallup found the following benefits:
• An 81% decrease in absenteeism
• A 58% reduction in issues of mortality and falls in patient safety incidents
• The high turnover organizations seeing an 18% reduction in turnover
• Even more significant results in low turnover industries with a 43% reduction
• Improvement of 28% less shrinkage from theft
• A reduction in accidents with 64% fewer safety incidents
• An improvement in quality with 41% fewer quality defects
• An increase of 10% in customer loyalty/engagement
• Sales productivity rising by 18%
• An increase of 28% in profitability
I always like improvement initiatives that, while the right thing to do, also have many other desirable benefits to an organization. However, much like a house must be built on a solid foundation, leaders must adequately invest in developing their management team if these results are to become a reality.
Employees seek a social and psychological sense of belonging where they feel valued by their manager and organization. Therefore, companies that properly invest in developing managers that create this setting for their workforce provide a desirable employment environment while also reaping significant operational benefits.
Individuals interested in improving employee engagement at any level of the organization can benefit from reading How Companies Can Improve Employee Engagement Right Now. In the article, there are recommendations for actions based on the twenty most essential engagement drivers from their research.
I am grateful for manufacturing and production companies like Stryker (69), Hillcorp Energy Company (74), JM Family Enterprises, Inc. (85), and Dow (99) that represent the sector in the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® 2022. They are an example of the success a manufacturing and production operation can achieve through high levels of engagement.
Next week's blog will continue to explore steps to lessen the waste of human potential as it relates to humanist manufacturing.
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