In good times, employee engagement is the difference between being good and being great

“In good times, employee engagement is the difference between being good and being great. In bad times, it’s the difference between surviving and not.” James K. Harter

There are those who will survive this economy and there are those who will not. The organizations that survive and thrive during this downturn are the ones who know how to engage their workforce. Employee engagement isn’t a fluffy topic nor is it for the faint at heart. Employee engagement is essential to any organization. And it could actually be the critical piece between those who thrive over the next few years and those who close their doors.

According to Gallop, unengaged employees cost organizations over 350 billion dollars a year. Combine this number with the fact that engaged workers decrease productivity, spread negative energy and squash creativity. Unengaged employees are a virus to any organization.

On the flip side, Watson Wyatt found that companies with highly engaged employees demonstrated 200% greater profitability. The fact is employee engagement does add to the bottom line. And in order to be profitable or stay profitable – we must have an engaged workforce.

What is engagement? Engagement is defined as: busy or occupied; involved: deeply engaged in conversation, to occupy oneself; become involved: to engage in business or politics, to attract and hold fast: The novel engaged her attention and interest, to attract or please: His good nature engages everyone.

Employee engagement, also called work engagement, is a concept that is generally viewed as managing discretionary effort, that is, when employees have choices, they will act in a way that furthers their organization’s interests. An engaged employee is a person who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work.

Engaged employees are more productive, create stronger customer relationships, and stay longer. They are powerful “outside-the-box” thinkers and are more likely to react positively to creative ideas. They have good friends at work and are liked by their peers. Engaged employees are willing to go above and beyond in providing excellent customer service, willing to learn and grow with the organization and they consistently exceed expectations. In addition they are twice as likely as their less engaged peers to be top performers, are absent less often and are more resilient to and supportive of organizational change initiatives.

In this economy you must have engaged employees. Unengaged employees will cost your organization now and when the economy turns back around.

Take an honest look at your organization today. What do you see? Are your employees engaged? Are you engaged? To find out if you are an engaged leader, answer the questions below.

1.       Have you lost more than 20% of your team for “no reason” in the past 12 months?

2.      Do your direct reports apply for jobs elsewhere in your company, regardless of whether they are qualified for the new position or not?

3.      The last time you disciplined someone; did they just agree with you and want to get out of your space as quickly as possible?

4.      Has it been more than a year since anyone on your team referred someone to any position in your organization?

5.      If you polled your team, would 3 out of 5, when asked if they’re engaged or not, just nod and say “uh huh” or would they ask you what you mean by this question?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to take a look at your own engagement. You cannot lead an organization to engagement if you are not engaged – it starts at the top!

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