Employee engagement is at an important crossroads. After years of conducting engagement surveys, organizations are finding that improving employee engagement is a lot more difficult than measuring it.
Surveys have helped organizations to identify areas that need to be addressed, but an inability to “move the needle” when it comes to improving scores has turned optimism into cynicism in many cases.
Organizations need to shift their focus says Bob Freytag, Director of Consulting Services for The Ken Blanchard Companies. In an interview for Blanchard Ignite, Freytag says it’s time to take action.
“Stagnant or declining engagement scores tell you that leadership fundamentals are missing,” explains Freytag. “Putting those fundamentals in place requires time, focus, and a strategic shift.
“Engagement surveys create a dynamic tension between what is and what is possible in an organization. The best leaders lean into those needs and become sponsors and champions of change.”
The Ken Blanchard Companies’ ongoing research into the factors that create a passionate work environment has identified three major areas of focus—Organizational Factors, Job Factors, and Relationship Factors—that leaders at different levels in organizations need to address to bring out the best in their people.
Organizational Factors include Fairness (as measured by Distributive and Procedural Justice), Growth, and Performance Expectations. Job Factors include Meaningful Work, Autonomy, Task Variety, and Workload Balance. Relationships Factors include Connectedness with Leader, Connectedness with Colleagues, Collaboration, and Feedback.
At an Organizational Level, senior leaders can begin looking at ways to shape the organization’s systems, policies, and procedures. At a Job Level, managers and supervisors can begin to explore the degree to which their direct reports feel their needs are being met in each area–and once identified, look at ways to set up the conditions that are more favorable for each factor. The scores on the four Relationship Factors can—and should be—addressed by leaders at all levels to understand how to improve the connections between people in the organization.
“But leaders need to address issues directly and not be vague or ambiguous,” cautions Freytag. “Help people see a clear path ahead and address what is possible. Also recognize how important you really are as a leader. Leaders often get in the groove like anyone else and they come to work, they execute against their list of responsibilities, and they forget the importance of their role.
“It’s important for leaders to remember that they are always having an impact—you have no choice in that. The only choice you have is what that impact will be.”
You can read the complete interview with Freytag in the November issue of Ignite. Also be sure to check out the information about a free webinar that Freytag is conducting on The Leader’s Role in Creating an Engaging Work Environment. It is a complimentary event, courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies.