Time to improve employee engagement….

All companies I work with claim they want enthusiastic and engaged employees. Perhaps not a surprise when you see study after study demonstrating the link between employee engagement and financial performance. Yet some recent research by Gallup indicates that more than 70% of employees in the typical company are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.”

What’s the reason for this failure? In my view, it comes down to a disconnect between how companies try to promote engagement and what truly inspires and motivates employees. Yet some companies such as Apple, Innocent, Zappos and Rackspace manage to buck these trends. What are their secrets?

1. Line managers lead the charge. It’s difficult for employees to be truly engaged if they don’t trust their bosses. That is why it is critical for managers to treat team engagement as a high priority, and why the directors cannot merely prescribe a solution. Instead, managers must have the responsibility and authority to earn the enthusiasm, energy, and commitment that signal deep employee engagement.

2. Managers learn how to have conversations with their team members. Not every manager is a natural at engaging employees, so they require training and coaching on how to encourage productive discussions with their team members.

3. Conduct regular “pulse checks.” Short, frequent and anonymous surveys (as opposed to a long annual survey) give managers a better understanding of team dynamics and a sense of how the team believes customers’ experiences can be improved. What matters most, however, is not the metrics but the resulting dialogue.

4. Teams rally around the customer. The ‘front line’ employees know which aspects of the business annoy or delight customers. The companies that regularly earn high employee engagement tap that knowledge by asking employees how the company can earn more of their customers’ business and build their advocacy.

So this week, what can you do to improve employee engagement?

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