There is no arguing that a highly engaged employee is a productive employee. Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They care about their work, drive innovation, and move their organization forward. Unfortunately, engaged employees are hard to come by. Gallup recently reported that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. The United States, at only 29%, was found to have one of the highest levels of engaged employees, demonstrating that there is a great deal of room for improvement.
There are many different opinions on what drives employee engagement. As an industrial-organizational psychologist who has worked with thousands of employees across a variety industries, I have seen first-hand what organizations with actively engaged employees do. Here are the three most important drivers of employee engagement.
1. Relationship with Manager
While it seems intuitive that the relationship with one’s manager is important, we tend to overlook how significant this relationship truly is. A manager that is disliked can very quickly boost dissatisfaction and active disengagement-- and disengaged employees are unproductive employees. What you think of your manager is just as important as what your manager thinks of you. Even though we like to think that we carve our own future and create our own opportunities, the truth is that a manager can create roadblocks that can be detrimental to one’s career.
As a manger, get to know your employees and understand their needs, goals, their stressors, and motivators. The quality of interactions you have is more important than the quantity of interactions, so make sure that you are making a genuine effort to truly understand and get to know the person. Understanding their career goals is just as important as having a friendly connection. Make sure you allow time for friendly conversation and get to know them on a personal level.
2. Opportunities for Growth
As humans we are driven to grow and develop new skills. As a manager, it’s important to spend time developing your employees. Employees of managers who are very effective at development can outperform their peers by up to 25%. Employees benefit most from managers who clarify performance standards and focus on experience-based learning opportunities.
Employees want to see opportunities for skill development and opportunities for career advancement. Simply put, when employees feel that they lack opportunities to make advancement in their own careers, they will begin to look for work elsewhere. Often times the opportunity to move up the organizational latter isn’t an option because there isn’t an availability of positions. Rather than risking turnover and disengagement, consider finding new learning opportunities, such as lateral career moves.
3. Meaningful Work
When it comes to engagement, financial rewards fall lower on the totem pole than most people think. As a matter of fact, no matter how much money one is making, it is impossible to feel engaged at work if you feel like the work you are doing is not meaningful. Employees need to believe that their job makes good use of their skills and abilities. As a manager, learn about your employees’ goals and what is important to them, so you can better determine the roles and responsibilities that will allow them to have the most positive impact on their work. What do you currently do to keep your employees engaged? What could you start doing?
To get tips for motivating your employees, click here to download our free E-Reader: MOTIVATING OTHERS: 8 TIPS TO ENGAGE YOUR TEAM.