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Engage Your Workforce, No Coddling Required

“Doesn’t everybody love their job?”

During the heat of a #TChat event last week, our partners at TalentCulture challenged the Twitter community with that tongue-in-cheek question. And now I suggest an appropriately tongue-in-cheek response: The answer is no.

So, how do we fix it? And should we fix it?

Employee engagement moves business forward, and should be a priority for any human resources professional. But as the prevailing sentiment among #TChat participants indicated, coddling disengaged employees is not an HR function. Nonetheless, if your employees feel that they aren’t respected or their work doesn’t matter, you need to deal with larger issues than engagement scores.

It’s important to recognize employees for their contributions — in part to increase engagement, but mostly because it’s a vital factor in business success. Several years ago, Gallup estimated that disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy $370 billion annually. High employee disengagement leads to high employee turnover — which, in turn, means increased recruiting and training expenses.

So, if your company is looking to increase overall engagement in a sustainable way, it’s essential to help your workforce understand the meaning and importance of their contributions.

3 Sources of Positive, Tangible Engagement

1) Executive Sponsorship  If your C-suite dismisses the importance of engagement, that will ultimately be reflected in the attitude of managers and employees. Engagement needs to be a priority at the highest levels. Executives who live company values are leading by example. Prove to all levels of the workforce that workplace culture is purposeful — not accidental — and everyone becomes invested in making it the best it can be.

2) Clear Communication  Get the team on the same page by articulating company goals and clarifying how individual goals relate to the bigger picture. True engagement — the result of a satisfying job and not office perks — can only be achieved when employees see how their individual contributions fit into the organization’s mission, values and objectives.

3) Individual Relationships  A great first step in helping employees feel respected is actually demonstrating respect on a personal level. Employees who feel anonymous are at risk of becoming disengaged, and dragging down others’ productivity and engagement. In large companies, it can be challenging for leaders to build relationships across their span of control, however this is essential. Different people respond differently to different motivators. The key to motivating employees is to understand each person well enough to recognize the factors that will help them develop and perform at their best.

For more information on building a culture of engagement, download our 2013 Guide to Recognition.

Image Credit: Pixabay