Ever find that you would like to have several multiples (e.g., clones) of yourself? No, not as your children, but as your employees at work: little mini-mes. You might think this would make your job easier because everyone would think, act, have the same abilities as you and be as motivated and engaged as you are, and even better — you would understand what makes these mini-me (mini-you) employees tick. As a manager and leader in your feed and grain business, one of the most important aspects of your job is motivating and engaging your employees. It is extremely useful for your business to understand and effectively implement a process of employee engagement.
Academic literature defines employee engagement as “an employee’s involvement with, commitment to, and satisfaction with work.” In the business of education, we deal not only with engaging employees, but also with engaging our students. Believe us, the workplace and the classroom are both more pleasant and productive venues when participants are excited about being there and are involved in productive activities.
But, isn’t employee engagement just another buzzword? No, not at all.
Research by Gallup Consulting and others find that engaged employees are more productive, more profitable, safer, more customer-focused, and less likely to leave your company. Gallup uses the ratio of engaged to not-engaged employees in an organization as a macro-level metric of an organization’s health. Results of its study of more than 17 million employees indicate that the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 10:1 in what they refer to as “world-class” organizations; however, the ratio is 2:1 in what they refer to as “average” organizations. Its research finds differences in profitability, productivity, safety, absenteeism and turnover between engaged and disengaged work groups. Further, its results indicate engaged organizations have 3.9 times the growth rate of earnings per share (EPS) compared to organizations with lower engagement in the same industry. Finally, if this is not enough to convince you that having engaged employees is important to your business, $350 billion per year is lost by organizations due to employee disengagement according to a study of 8,000 employees in a cross-section of industries conducted by Profiles International.
All of these results suggest that in order to improve the success of your business, you need more, rather than fewer, actively engaged employees in your current organization. What is an “actively engaged employee” compared to a “disengaged employee”?
Gallup officially defines three types of employees: Engaged, Not-engaged and Actively Disengaged as the following: “Engaged employees work with passion and feel a connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward. Not-engaged employees are essentially ‘checked out.’ They are sleepwalking through their workday, putting time but not energy or passion into their work. Actively disengaged employees are not just unhappy at work; they are busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day these workers undermine what their engaged co-workers accomplish.”
The following addresses additional elements of employee engagement.
Levels of employee engagement
While Gallup’s classification system of three types is broad, it is useful in gaining a better understanding of your employees.
The previously mentioned study by Profiles International classifies workers in six, rather than three, groups: Detached Contributors, Stalled Optimists, Maverick Contributors, Self-empowered Innovators, Fair & Square Traditionalists, and Accomplished Contributors. “Detached Contributors” are defined as those who see the value of work for its near-term economic benefit. “Stalled Contributors” view work as a source of livelihood but not currently or not yet as a satisfying priority in their lives. The viewpoint of “Maverick Contributors” is that work is one of the multiple opportunities for change and excitement in their lives. For “Self-empowered Innovators,” work is about creating something with lasting value. “Fair & Square Traditionalists” view work as being about upward mobility and an upwardly mobile path to success. “Accomplished Contributors” are those people who see work as their opportunity to be a valuable part of a winning team.