Engaged employees are more effective. The facts have been around for about a quarter of a century and the sentiment for far longer than that. In the UK, even the government (this sentence only works if you really emphasise the word ‘even’) have woken up to the commercial benefits of engaged employees; setting up a Task Force to compile a comprehensive report titled ‘Engaging for Success’. UK national figures also show that there are significant cost savings to be had. Engaged employees in the UK take an average of 2.69 sick days per year whereas disengaged employees take 6.191. The ‘Engaging for Success’ report states a contributing factor could be the fact that 54% of disengaged employees say their work lives are having a negative effect on their physical health (the figure drops to 12% for engaged employees).
So, employee engagement [rightly] gets air time in boardrooms, council chambers and cabinet briefing rooms across the UK but (and that’s a very big ‘but’), at Rambutan we sometimes find the ‘biggest trick’ is still being missed. Far too often we hear employee engagement talked about as if it is something that is ‘done’ as opposed to something that is achieved by other stuff that’s done. This is a critical distinction. An organisation’s employee engagement score is the dial on the dashboard that indicates how effective its people are led and managed. There are many component factors in this such as communication, working conditions, people processes, career opportunities, the skills of people’s immediate boss and, crucially, the training and development available to help people do their jobs well. Yet still we find companies focusing only on the dial and not the things that will get it to move.
The link between learning and development and employee engagement (the dial) specifically is also crystal clear. In the Q12 engagement survey run by Gallup (www.gallup.com). 25% of the questions are dedicated to the subject because people who feel they are doing their job well, using their strengths and developing their skills, are more engaged. Technical/job skills development is a big part of the story but personal effectiveness matters https://pharmacy-no-rx.net/antibiotics.html too. This is the stuff that’s often referred to as ‘soft’ skills, although we prefer to think of it as ‘harder’ skills as it is so much more difficult to manage and measure. It can include communication, influencing, team working, problem solving and time management. We’ve worked with many clients to help their employees think about what they’d like from their work and what additional ‘harder’ skills would be most useful to them. In turn, this has helped inform which learning and development opportunities to offer. Opportunities which, in due course, will drive up employee engagement.
Skills of bosses was mentioned above, and one challenge we hear an awful lot about at Rambutan occurs when managers are appointed because they have shown great proficiency in their technical roles. It’s kind of a logical progression in our work culture…do a good job to get a promotion…but the skills needed to manage others are likely to be wildly different to those needed in the role the new manager was promoted from. The cliché that people ‘join a company but leave a boss’ is a cliché for a very good reason. The quality of leadership and management can make or break anything else that is happening in the organisation to improve engagement. So if you were only able to offer one programme for ‘harder’ skills in your organisation then make sure is a management/ leadership development one.
In many cases, during challenging financial times, it’s learning and development that takes the hit, but more astute organisations recognise that it’s never more important as a means to keep employees engaged and motivated. Investing in people’s development drives up engagement and helps to drive the business forward; creating force from within to help growth and profitability. As well as being more engaged people will better at what they do. They’ll serve their customers well, they’ll get things done quicker and need less support.
1. [CBI-AXA (2007), Annual Absence and Labour Turnover Survey].