Temkin Group research shows that engaged employees are valuable assets-they try harder at work and are more committed to helping the company succeed than their less engaged counterparts. In fact, in our 2016 Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, we found that compared to disengaged employees, highly engaged employees are:
- Four times more likely to do something good for the company that is unexpected of them
- Four times more likely to recommend the company’s products and services to someone who might need them
- Four times more likely to make a recommendation about an improvement that can be made at their company
- Two and a half times more likely to stay late at work if something needs to be done after their normal workday ends
So what does it take for companies to reap these benefits? They must recognize that employee engagement is not just about the employee; it’s about connecting employees with the goals of the organization. This requires that employees are both aligned and empowered.
- Aligned: Employees feel they are responsible for helping the company achieve its goals and are committed to delivering on its values.
- Empowered: Employees feel they have the responsibility and the capability to make decisions that positively affect customers
Without alignment, employees don’t feel a real connection with the company or any responsibility for its success. Without empowerment, employees may want to help the company succeed, but don’t see a way to do that in the role they play.
So how can companies ensure high alignment and empowerment? They can start by focusing on strengthening three areas-all of which strongly correlate to the productive, committed employee behaviors described above.
1.Make sure employees understand the mission of the company. It’s impossible to align any group of people in the same direction if they don’t know where they’re headed. A company needs to ensure that its mission, values, and goals are easy to understand and remember so that employees can use them to guide the myriad decisions they make every day. This includes identifying specific employee behaviors so that employees understand explicitly what they can do to contribute to the company’s (and their own) success. A critical tactic to deploy-leaders at all levels must reinforce the company’s mission, goals, and values on a consistent and persistent basis, not only through what they communicate, but also through how they act.
2.Provide employees with the training and the tools they need to be successful. No company can expect its employees to magically know what they are supposed to do and how to do it. Employees need opportunities to develop and practice the knowledge and skills required to succeed. This happens through activities like formal training, on-the-job coaching, and peer reinforcement, to name a few. Companies also need to make sure they are making it easy for employees to take the right actions. If employees are constrained by things like out-of-date systems that require work-arounds or frustrating policies they have to enforce with customers, then neither employees nor customers will have a positive experience.
3.Ask for employees’ feedback and act upon their input. When a company makes its employees part of its improvement and decision-making processes, their commitment levels significantly increase. Employees are a fountain of valuable information, so companies should be applying the same rigor to employee feedback as they apply to customer feedback and voice of the customer programs. Employee listening programs can encompass activities beyond a formal engagement survey. Take advantage of employee councils, employee social network discussion boards, along with ad hoc employee feedback sessions, to capture input around specific initiatives or projects. But companies can’t stop with listening-they must close the loop with employees by sharing what was learned, what actions they are taking, and why other ideas won’t be moving forward.
Companies that come out ahead will be those that understand that raising employee engagement is not the charge of any single function, but rather a team effort involving senior executives, middle managers, Human Resources, Customer Experience, Marketing, Communications, IT, etc. These companies will take a look inside their four walls and ensure that there is an environment in place where the culture and operating processes are aligned with the goals of the company, and that this environment enables employees to deliver consistently great customer experiences.
The work involved is not easy, but it is worth it. Our research shows that organizations that are successful benefit from not only more engaged employees but better customer experience and financial results.