5 Ways HR Can Improve Employee Engagement

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By: Susan Ruhl

5 Ways HR Can Improve Employee Engagement

Do you know what I love?  Data.  Why? Because it helps non-believers believe, especially in the world of employee engagement.  Often when we talk about engagement, it can seem to be a very nebulous topic with fuzzy outcomes.  Despite this all-to-familiar understanding on the topic, according to Gallup, an American research-based, global performance-management consulting company, there are very real statistics surrounding the positive effect of employee engagement versus the negative effect of disengagement.

Gallup studied nearly 1.9 million employees and discovered “Work units in the top quartile in employee engagement outperformed bottom-quartile units by 10% on customer ratings, 17% in productivity, 20% in sales, and 21% in profitability. Work units in the top quartile also saw significantly less turnover (24% in high-turnover organizations and 59% in low-turnover organizations), shrinkage (28%), and absenteeism (41%) and fewer safety incidents (70%), patient safety incidents (58%), and quality defects (40%).” 2016 Gallup Meta-analysis

How, then can HR improve employee activity?

It starts with 1.   Work with managers to help each employee understand their unique talents and what they bring to the team. Doing so will begin to build a constituency of engaged employees.

It comes from the top. Real change happens at the workgroup level. However, if a strong leadership mentality and presence is absent at the top, employees and managers won’t feel empowered to drive the changes necessary to create an engaged and involved workplace.  Create communication vehicles that provide employees and managers the room to make decisions.

Select the right managers.  Or invest the time necessary to develop great managers.  Some people come by leadership skills naturally, but they are the great minority.  Developing a great individual contributor into a great manager takes time and investment. The best managers understand the impact that each employee has on the organization.

The managers are critical.  Gallup’s research has found that managers are primarily responsible for their employees’ engagement levels. Companies should coach managers to take an active role in building engagement plans with their employees, hold managers accountable, track their progress, and ensure that they continuously focus on ways to keep their employees motivated, and actively participating in the organization.

Make success an everyday occurrence.  Creating an atmosphere of small successes that lead to the overall success of the company has a dramatic impact on the individual players.  Remember that everyone, leader or not, needs to understand how they fit into the larger picture to feel valued in their work. The higher the value an employee feels, the more likely they are to be contributing members of an organization. Break it down into smaller pieces to make it recognizable on the individual level.

These are just a few ideas around improving employee activity or engagement. What methods have you had success with?


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