Are engaged employees born that way, or do they become so over time? As with most things, it’s probably a little of both. An engaged employee finds a natural fit with the organization, but maintaining that situation depends on multiple factors. Managers, business success, and the employee’s own motivations are critical. But it’s HR that is responsible for making a good situation even better – AKA, growth. That’s why, for each advantage that an engaged employee brings to their role, HR can enhance it.
Gallup has published an important truth: “Without employee engagement, there’s no team engagement.” It’s simply a fact that a bunch of disinterested employees will not suddenly change their behavior when working in groups. So it stands to reason that, the higher the engagement levels for individuals, the better the overall engagement rate of the team.
Chalk another one up for teamwork skills. Obviously, they are important for coordinating group efforts. But they also provide an opportunity for engaged workers to influence others with their motivated viewpoint.
HR can make the most of this situation by strengthening the teamwork skills of enthusiastic employees. Special attention should be given to their affiliative skills: communication, critical thinking, and professionalism. Such skills allow your best people to handle group dynamics, particularly when the negative atmosphere created by disengaged employees might be a threat to performance.
The definition of “engagement” goes something like this: “the emotional connection between workers and their job, coworkers, and organization.” An engaged worker feels a tie to the others in their department and even their company, and they show it by being upbeat and welcoming.
Although managers are supposed to be cheerleaders for their teams, workers might assume that there is some self-interest there. In comparison, a supportive employee is probably acting that way because they genuinely like their peers and organization.
This type of positivity is an asset to appreciate. In some ways, an engaged worker is also a leader because leaders take initiative – in this case, by helping coworkers and encouraging productivity. Enhancing this situation through leadership skills training will keep the ball rolling.
Because engagement is also about identifying with your organization as a whole, its benefits go up the hierarchy. According to Insights Driven Leadership, 73% of employees think that it is necessary for them to have a means of providing suggestions to superiors.
In the real world, “reverse feedback” plays an important role. Forbes gives the example of the Israeli Air Force (IAF), which is one of the most effective organizations of its type in the world. Obviously full of highly-engaged employees, the IAF makes a point of allowing any pilot to critique the performance of even the most senior officers.
It’s HR’s job to make similar things happen by setting up reverse feedback programs, in addition to regular employee feedback functions. It’s also important to build an open organizational culture where honest bottom-up feedback is encouraged by management.
Creativity is yet another advantage that engaged employees bring to their organizations. Research has shown that this is true even in fields like pharmaceuticals, engineering, IT, and electronics. One would expect highly trained employees to bring an innovative mindset to their jobs. But, in such organizations, motivated employees are both more creative and interested in remaining longer with the company. This might be related to their positive attitude as they are more determined to overcome challenges than their disengaged coworkers are.
Promoting innovation through learning about problem-solving, as well as training in hard skills to build more understanding of technical areas, is something HR can arrange so as to strengthen creativity.
One legend in the world of management consulting, Peter Drucker, foresaw the vital importance of knowledge workers. These are not librarians. Instead, they have the ability to support others by sharing their knowledge.
In his book “The Landmarks of Tomorrow,” Drucker predicted that, in the 2000s, successful companies would depend on employees who bring problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities to their teams. Regardless of their specialties, such workers are highly productive and have a more motivated mindset compared to other employees.
To empower knowledge workers, HR can implement initiatives such as:
- Mentoring and reverse mentoring programs
- Knowledge-sharing workshops and Q&A sessions
- Job rotation and job shadowing
For many companies, engaged employees are a means to an end, and that end is measured in terms of productivity. If you like statistics, then you’ll be interested in Gallup’s research which connects engagement and productivity. Companies with top scores for employee engagement have the following advantages over low-scoring ones:
- 23% higher overall profitability
- 18% higher productivity for sales departments
- 14% higher productivity for manufacturing
One way to raise productivity is by reinforcing the skills that support it. These include:
- Ability to prioritize
- Managing distractions
- Doing one thing at a time
Ensure Engagement with GrowthSpace
Many of the steps that HR can take to nurture employee engagement are connected to skills. Whether it’s improving their time management abilities or teaching them how to operate the latest software, engaged employees want learning and development opportunities that lead to growth.
The GrowthSpace platform is custom-built for exactly this purpose. Through its market-leading technology, GrowthSpace automatically matches employees, the skills they need, and the best L&D experts in every field. Maximize engagement while minimizing the challenges of running successful training programs with GrowthSpace.