By Diamond Richardson
There is an abundance of material available on the topic of employee engagement. Thousands of books, articles, and research are evidence enough that it is an important business concept. It makes sense that the more connected and engaged you are with your company, the better you perform.
Luckily, after years of bad reports about the perilous state of employee engagement, we have some good news. Modern Survey’s annual employee engagement survey of 700 adults working full-time found that employees are more engaged this year than they were last year. Their measurement of employee engagement was based on five key drivers:
- I have confidence in my company’s senior management.
- I can grow and develop at my organization.
- My work gives me a feeling of personal accomplishment.
- I have confidence in the future of my company/organization.
- I am paid fairly for the work I do.
This is great news, but after digging into the results, there is still one cause for alarm: employee confidence in organizational leaders is stagnant. The survey found that 41 percent of employees responded unfavorably to the statement “I have confidence in my company’s senior management.” Almost half of employees do not trust their senior leaders!
Senior leaders are supposed to drive employee engagement. Although employee engagement looks good by other measurements, this problem with senior leadership -if left unchecked for too long- can drag it back down. Leaders need the trust of their workforce to reach company goals. It is hard to get your employees excited about going above and beyond for a company when they are not confident in the senior leadership. This key driver of employee engagement can have major implications on a company’s bottom line in three different ways:
1) Customer service: Customer service starts at the top, with the leaders setting precedents about the right way to treat customers, based on the company’s values. If customer-facing employees trust their managers, they will not hesitate to follow guidelines on the correct way to interact with customers. If they do not trust their manager’s methods, they may take how they handle customers into their own hands, creating inconsistencies among your customer service touch points. This inconsistency is an easy way to lose customers.
2) Absenteeism: Absenteeism can be costly if it gets out of control. Employees who like their bosses are more excited to come to work and do their jobs. These engaged employees get a sense of pride out of contributing to company success and pleasing their managers. Un-engaged employees do not really care if their managers are pleased with their work. This will cause them to do the bare minimum and be at work the minimum amount of time required.
3) Productivity: Engaged employees are excited to be a part of bringing the company goals to fruition. Their excitement helps them work harder with fewer breaks and distractions, making them more productive. On the other hand, employees who do not trust the vision only work for a paycheck, doing the bare minimum. They are frequently distracted and are more likely to spend company time doing non-work related tasks.
Zappos is an excellent example of a company that strategically focuses on employee engagement and has reaped the benefits. Zappos is often cited as an example of how to do customer service right. The company was purchased by Amazon in 2009 after hitting $1 billion in sales two years earlier than expected. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh believes this success all relates back to the people Zappos hires and how they fit into the company culture. Zappos candidates undergo multiple interviews to make sure they understand what the company culture at Zappos is like and to make sure they are a fit. Once they are in, Zappos executives know they have already bought into the vision, and the waters ahead are smoother sailing than they would be without that buy-in.
In the second part of this blog topic, we will examine how senior leaders can gain confidence from their employees.
What do you believe leaders should do to build trust with their employees?