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How to Create an Engaged Workforce

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on July 29, 2011

Nationwide job satisfaction is currently at the lowest ever recorded, down 26 percent since 1987. In addition, only 45 percent of US employees are satisfied with their jobs, and less than one-third are engaged at work.

Although employee engagement is not typically viewed as a boardroom issue, disengaged employees can hurt customer service, productivity, sales, and profits. Engaged employees care more about their jobs, perform at a higher level relative to their peers, and stay longer in their positions.

While many factors determine employee satisfaction, managers shape the environment that drives the engagement—or disengagement—of their employees. Here are a few steps managers can take to create a more engaged work environment:

Assess potential employees’ cultural fit, not just their skills and experience. Every company has a unique company culture. Engagement starts by making sure employees will fit and enjoy the company’s style.

Make a greater percentage of compensation performance-based pay, which must be re-earned each year. This approach increases a worker’s focus and ensures alignment throughout the organization.

Provide opportunities for growth and development. Ensure that managers and direct reports are having quarterly conversations about career goals and the knowledge and skills that need to be developed for advancement. Instead of formalized training programs, maximize informal learning, mentorships, job rotations, and other developmental experiences.

Recognize employees and show sincere appreciation. More important than the annual plaques and award dinners are the "thank-yous" that occur immediately following achievements and great efforts. Asking employees for their ideas is a great way to show they are valued.

Earn team members’ trust and build their confidence in the future. Engagement is not possible unless workers trust the leadership. Be fully transparent, strive to "overcommunicate," and ensure that everybody is in tune with your strategic plan.

Kevin Kruse
The Kruse Group
Bucks County, Pa.

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