Engaged employees are among a company’s most valuable assets, according to a 2009 research brief on ethics and employee engagement. The supplemental brief, released by the Ethics Resource Centre and Hay Group to accompany its National Business Ethics Survey found that engaged employees lower the level of misconduct in an organization and reduce risk by reporting it early.
According to the report:
“Engaged employees recommend their company to friends and family, take pride in working there, and intend to stay with the company. They are also willing to go the extra mile for their organization, making it possible for the company to do more with less. And because they can be counted on to make independent decisions and take action in ways that are consistent with the company’s culture, objectives, and values, they require less supervision and direction and adapt easily to changing roles and responsibilities.”
The report explores whether or not engaged employees respond differently to observations of misconduct and concludes that “employees who observe misconduct are less engaged than those who do not. In addition, engaged employees are less likely to feel pressure to commit misconduct.” The survey also discovered that engaged employees are more likely to report observed misconduct, which reduces risks and allows the issue to be resolved sooner.
How to Improve Employee Engagement
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According to the ERC report, employee engagement is most often influenced by factors that have nothing to do with money. Here are three ways leaders can engage employees:
1. Respectful Work Environment
Employee engagement starts with the workplace. Do employees feel safe? Do they feel comfortable at work and amongst their peers? In the Inc. article “How to Engage Your Employees,” Nancy Mobley discusses the importance of the working environment:
“We have to make sure that we are providing an optimal workplace environment for them to thrive. They should feel respected and comfortable to express their ideas, regardless of their role or position in the organization. Management has to be accessible and seen around the company.”
To encourage employees to raise their hands and share their thoughts on ways to improve products or business processes, take the time to listen to them and reward them for their ideas. Every company rewards their employees differently. Some develop incentive plans, others hand out bonuses to top performers, but rewards don’t always have to be monetary. To determine how your employees would like to be rewarded, ask them. In the Business Insider article “How To Boost Employee Engagement When Morale Is In The Dumps,” Dianne Durkin, president of Loyalty Factor LLC, says:
“It doesn’t take much to get someone motivated. Just pay attention to someone. Say ‘Great job.’ Ask what would make their day better–and then follow through if you can.”
3. Think Outside the Box
The Business Insider article also describes an engagement-boosting activity used by M5 Networks Inc. in New York. The article describes the project and some of the results:
“The company’s 100 employees were divided into 10 cross-functional teams from different parts of the organization, says president and CEO Dan Hoffman. In addition to competing in scavenger hunts and other teambuilding activities, the teams worked together on business issues such as developing new sales pitches and writing business plans for new products. Being asked for feedback and seeing that their ideas were valued led employees to become more invested in their jobs. After the program’s end, Hoffman saw a 10-point increase on customer satisfaction surveys, as well as increases in employee satisfaction surveys.”