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Help Employees Help You: Five Research-Based Ways to Boost Engagement

Discover five ways to help your employees climb out of that disengaged slump, and spring into a more productive and motivated work ethic.

What percentage of your employees are “engaged”? Take a guess.

The 2011 BlessingWhite Report encompassing organizations worldwide found that only 31 per cent of employees qualify as engaged. This represents a staggering loss for companies: Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost more than $300 billion in lost productivity. Disengaged employees can hurt morale and erode the organization’s bottom line. In contrast, engaged employees are more profitable, more customer-focused, and easier to retain.

Employee engagement is described as the emotional and intellectual commitment of an employee to his or her organization. Here are five simple, research-based ways to engage your employees:

1. Connect employees with the people they serve.

One five-minute interaction with individuals who benefit from the company’s products and services can produce up to a 500 per cent boost in employee productivity. Interaction increases empathy for customers, motivating employees to do a better job serving them. For example, attaching a photo of the patient to an X-ray enhances radiologists’ effort and accuracy, yielding 46 per cent improvements in diagnostic findings.

2. Get personal.

Employees who know their manager well “as a person” are more likely to be engaged. Managers often believe traditional managerial skills such as effective delegation of assignments or providing regular feedback will raise engagement levels – but research shows that building personal relationships is even more effective.

3. Allow employees to help colleagues via employee support programs.

Employees who support co-workers in need experience increased commitment to the organization. Employee support programs (e.g. counselling services or financial grants) provide employees opportunities to help each other. To achieve the engagement benefits of such a program, communicate to employees the ways they can contribute, demonstrate the program’s credibility, and highlight the organization’s contributions to it.

4. Commit to CSR.

Research shows that employees who are satisfied with the organization’s commitment to social and environmental responsibilities demonstrate more commitment, engagement, and productivity. In fact, when employees are positive about their employer’s commitment to CSR, engagement across the company rises: in the same study, engagement spiked to 86 per cent when employees had positive feelings towards the company’s commitment, compared with just 37 per cent for employees who harboured negative feelings.

5. Invest in workplace wellness.

Employer-sponsored programs that support employees in adopting behaviours that reduce health risks and improve quality of life — also known as wellness programs — raise engagement levels and directly impact the bottom line. For instance, Johnson & Johnson saw returns of $2.71 for every dollar spent on wellness programs.

Try one or more of these strategies to boost your employee engagement and benefit from a more committed, productive, motivated and collaborative workforce.

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  • Bushra Tobah
    Doctoral Student
    Schulich School of Business, York University
    MSc in Management, International Business, Ivey Business School

    View all posts
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