Employee engagement strategies can involve all kinds of things, from running upskilling programs to bringing puppies to work. But did you know that there are “meta-skills” that promote successful engagement? Let’s have a look at some of the symptoms of engagement initiative failure, and three things that HR can do to fix the situation.
Engagement – It’s a Problem for Everyone
If your employee engagement strategies are struggling to turn the tide of Quiet Quitters – and actual quitters – you are not alone. For the first time in many years, overall engagement rates are dropping.
But is HR to blame? The answer is no and yes. Companies spend a lot of money on trying to increase employee interest in their work. According to Gartner, the average company invests $2,500 per worker each year in an attempt to boost the employee experience.
This money is spent on various programs, ranging from the logical to the ludicrous. On the side of reason, companies invest in learning and development to build professional skills, with the average large organization spending $17.5 million on training in 2021. On the side of silly, Google seems to have put playground slides in every office, and those slides have even been ranked.
Symptoms of Disengagement
But, despite these efforts, engagement continues to drop. Why is that? Let’s examine three common engagement initiatives and what often goes wrong with them.
If there’s ever been a comprehensive effort to engage employees, the growth strategy is it. Beyond providing L&D opportunities, growth programs seek to enhance the entire employee experience so as to build job satisfaction as well.
But don’t forget that it takes two to tango. The growth mindset requires that an employee sees their own development potential. After all, the theory states that there are also people with a fixed mindset, not just companies.
In short, HR can provide all the growth programs it wants, but if employees don’t invest effort, engagement will remain low.
According to Inc., employees who believe that their opinions matter are 4.6 times more likely to perform at their highest level. In practice, this translates to open-door policies, suggestion boxes, all-inclusive meetings, and getting CC’d on everything.
Here too, things can go wrong. Not everyone feels comfortable speaking up. Similarly, there are those who would rather spend time working than give their two cents on every issue. And finally, for those who are reluctant to participate but do so anyway, it’s not exactly inspirational when their opinions don’t get any attention.
Annual Performance Reviews
There was a time when performance reviews were a formality. But now, with all the attention being paid to keeping workers on staff and happy with their roles, reviews are longer, analyzed by HR, and taken seriously by managers.
The problem is that once a year isn’t enough. Skilled employees in particular face tough challenges every day, and they want to know how to improve.
The Engagement Solution: Meta-Skills
For both sides of the office – employees and managers – there are three critical development areas that, if optimized, can solve most engagement issues. In turn, these overarching “meta” skills should accomplish three things:
- Ingrain motivation
- Enable discussion
- Provide satisfaction
And happily, these abilities come in handy for many other essential professional areas.
Leadership skills include several skill elements, among them self-awareness. We often think of self-awareness as a trait that managers need to have so that they don’t let their ego interfere with properly supervising people. But leadership is a trait displayed by anyone who takes the initiative, including ‘doing the work’ in L&D programs. In this sense, through leadership training, employees can build self-awareness of their own responsibilities, get motivated, and take the lead in their own career development and growth.
A conversation involves two parties – somebody talking, and somebody listening. Both of these are communication skills.
For employees who avoid being in the limelight, there’s a course for that. By sharpening their abilities to speak publicly, write concise and clear emails, and argue a point of view, workers can comfortably participate in the various attempts to get employee input.
Managers should also work on their listening skills as a way to benefit from the value of employee wisdom. Plus, it’s not always preoccupied workers who are to blame for a lack of response to emails. Sometimes, it’s a lengthy, hazy message that dissuades an employee from reading and responding. Writing skills can solve the problem.
What’s true for L&D tends to be true for many HR ideas. Measurement is always critical. Obviously, sending out employee engagement surveys helps to understand how all of your programs are doing. But engagement is a sort of sum total of all the other initiatives.
It takes effort, but they should be assessed in some way, and more frequently than annually. Grading needs to be a part of every L&D program. This gives you an idea of what is working, and what isn’t. Plus, employees actually want feedback as it leads to greater satisfaction.
In this manner, when engagement numbers slide, you will be in a position to drill down into all the L&D stats that you’ve collected to find the root causes.
Assessment isn’t only on HR’s shoulders. Managers need instruction on how to provide quality information to engagement managers. In addition, it’s important to motivate employees to do their best when filling out surveys. How can that be accomplished? Through leadership and communication skills, which are the other two meta-skills.
Talking About Skills? Start Thinking About GrowthSpace
There might be a fourth reason for failed engagement programs. Large companies in particular face serious challenges when it comes to enhancing skills at scale. Understanding the specific L&D needs of each employee, and then finding top-notch experts to train them, is a tough task for any HR team.
The GrowthSpace solution is to automate the entire L&D process. Setting goals, sourcing experts, designing programs, and grading results – GrowthSpace does it all. Plus, it doesn’t replace quality with quantity, seeing as how it is the L&D platform chosen by some of the world’s most quality-conscious corporations. So get engaged with GrowthSpace today.