Gallup research puts the number of engaged employees at 33%. That’s a rather staggering number, meaning that two-thirds of the employees in the average workplace are not engaged. The numbers come from the State of the American Workplace report, which collected data from more than 195,600 U.S. employees, more than 31 million respondents, and insight from advising leading Fortune 1000 companies. The report makes the case that traditional management tools – annual reviews, forced rankings, outdated competencies – no longer produce the intended results.

Engagement is crucial because is is directly associated with key performance outcomes. Gallup research shows that engaged employees have a direct impact on such metrics as customer ratings, profitability, productivity, turnover, safety, abseteesism and more.

In an article in the Gallip Journal, senior Robyn Reilly talks about Five Ways to Improve Employee Engagement Now. The article describes employees as engaged, not-engaged, and actively disengaged. It suggests that the best opportunity for employers to move the needle is to focus efforts on the “not-engaged” center, who lack passion and essentially sleepwalk through their day.

Reilly says that “Every interaction with an employee has the potential to influence his or her engagement and inspire discretionary effort.” In the article, she offers describes 5 ways to improve engagement.” The steps she suggest are to:

  • Use the right employee engagement survey
  • Focus on engagement at the local and organizational levels.
  • Select the right managers
  • Coach managers and hold them accountable for their employees’ engagement
  • Define engagement goals in realistic, everyday terms.

Good managers are key to raising engagement

It’s no surprise that the emphasis in these action steps puts so much focus on managers. Gallup also says that managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. They address this in another article, The Damage Inflicted by Poor Managers. Among the suggestions offered by the authors:

“Leaving managers to their own devices can create disengaged workplaces. Companies should offer tailored and intensive training, coaching, support and guidance to all managers.

Many companies measure engagement but offer a one-size-fits-all approach to managing it. It’s better to provide foundational development in the first year of an engagement initiative and train and coach each manager on specific people-management needs in subsequent years.

Lower-performing managers are going to need tailored strategies and more intensive support. Managers should not be punished for their own lack of training — and they shouldn’t have to figure out how to engage their employees on their own.”

To bolster engagement, make it a priority to identify and hire managers with high potential. Once hired, train and coach managers in good leadership skills, people management, and building engagement. Also, old them accountable for results as part of their job responsibilities.

At ESI, we think engagement is so vital that we’ve added an extensive array of Peak Performance Benefits consisting of coaching, training and wellness benefits to complement our EAP benefits. And for those organizations that need an intensive training solution focused on improving employee engagement, we offer ESI’s Peak Performance Plus Benefits.

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