Employee Engagement Is Your Day Job

Leaders are the key to improving and maintaining employee engagement. They need to understand how important their role is in developing a great culture that has engagement employees who want to go above and beyond and want to contribute something meaningful in their jobs.

Too often when I call an organisation to discuss employee engagement I am immediately passed to the HR department. No disrespect to HR professionals but this has to stop. Employee engagement is the senior leaders’ key responsibility. HR are there to support him/her.

“Leaders are 100% accountable for employee engagement”.

As a leader employee engagement is your responsibility. Do not pass this to anyone else. Leaders are 100% accountable for employee engagement. Engaged employees produce better results. They are more motived and productive. Here is the irony. In the boardroom do the senior executives discuss profits or people? Sales turnover or people turnover?  Results come from engaged and motivated employees (whether financial or otherwise). How much time do senior executive teams spend discussing the “soft skill” employee engagement issues? In my experience I believe a lot more time needs to be allocated to this.

Recently in a follow-up meeting for one of the Bee Engaged workshops, a senior member of the leadership team started having a go at HR because the attrition rate was 20%. He went on about the fact that it must be reduced to the KPI target of 8% for the year. He said that 20% was totally unacceptable (he was correct in that statement). He managed to get himself quite worked up about it and launched into a vociferous attack on the poor person across the table about the terrible results.  At the right time I stepped in and asked him whose responsibility he thought this was. You know the answer. I am pleased to report that the point was taken, an apology was immediately made, and we moved forward. I repeat – leaders are 100% accountable for employee engagement.

Leaders should spend time looking at attrition rates, employee engagement scores, what they and their teams can do to maintain or improve employee engagement. I am not talking about pinball machines and table tennis tables. These are fun things to do but do not necessarily improve employee engagement. I want all leaders to focus on things like trust, open communication, transparency, providing meaningful work, giving genuine thanks for work well done, showing you care and really meaning it. These are the key ingredients to get your teams more engaged.  Employees are not human resources they are human beings. Treat them as such.

“Employees are not human resources they are human beings”.

What we need to do as leaders is to spend more time observing, listening and learning who does what and how well they do it. Be more aware of who the positive outliers are and support them. Be more aware of who the “sleep walkers” are and help them to become more positive and to contribute more. There are a large proportion of people in every organisation who are doing just enough not to get fired. Part of a leaders’ job is to engage and motivate them to improve their performance. Imagine what effect this would have on the bottom line. Imagine the effect on general morale and motivation and the ripple effect on engagement to other team members.

I always like keep things simple. After all simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. We do not need to over complicate this. It just takes a few minutes every day and I mean every day. You will soon see the benefits. Last month I was delivering Bee Engaged workshops to a client. This client had a large portion of her team whom I can only describe as “sleep walkers”. We spent two days together in each workshop discussing and debating the content. There were some great discussions, ideas and violent agreements as I call them.  At the end of the workshop we completed an exercise where I asked the participants to provide ideas on how to improve employee engagement. Then we asked the participants to provide the name of who will be responsible for making this improvement happen. They were not permitted to name anyone who works in HR. The names were agreed. A month later, when I followed up in a progress meeting, the results were astounding. Huge improvements had already been made in such a short time. Why? Perhaps the main reason is because people “the sleepwalkers” had taken responsibility and used HR for support.

The message:

Employee engagement is every leaders job. It is your responsibility, so make sure you are 100% accountable for it. Do not pass it off to another person or department.

Employee engagement is your day job. Do it and show you really care.

Paul Rigby is co-author of The Bee Book and facilitator of Bee Engaged workshop