Is your staff engaged? Do they exhibit a sense of pride or ownership of their job? Are they connected in a way that builds a sense of company loyalty?
We’re not talking about performance. Employee engagement isn’t about performance at all. An entirely disengaged employee (someone who hates her job but still does it with proficiency) may still sell more, produce more, or out perform her colleagues. But in the end, she’s not plugged in or engaged and is therefore, keeping an eye out for a better opportunity somewhere else.
It’s not just losing a good employee that should make you want to investigate employee engagement. Often a company with a more engaged staff will see a decrease in absenteeism, an increase in productivity, and an overall improvement in customer ratings. Safety related incidents are fewer, and there’s a decrease in on the job theft, too.
Gallup created 12 questions referred to as Q12 designed specifically to measure employee engagement. Take into consideration as you read them that each employee is unique in personality, in their approach to their job tasks, and may have a unique view of the company based simply on their work location.
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
Employees who know exactly what is expected of them tend to operate within this knowledge with a higher level of confidence. It’s up to the manager to make the expectations clear.
2. Do I have the materials and equipment that I need in order to do my work right?
I once worked in a wide-open work area with about 60 computers lined up one after another. Each workstation was equipped (a word I’m using lightly) with a computer monitor and keyboard, a chair, note pad and pen. Every single office chair was broken in some way and every request for a new chair was met with a chair swap: switching out one broken chair for another. Employees didn’t last in that environment more than a couple months.
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
Playing to an employee’s strengths is one of the absolute smartest moves a manager can make. Everyone likes to excel. Likes to feel competent and good at what they do. Assigning tasks based on strengths is setting up the employee to win, which in turn, leads to higher productivity, greater engagement and greater company loyalty.
4. In the past seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good?
Acknowledgement and gratitude are great moral boosters in any environment. Managers who skillfully acknowledge equally across the board often find they are helping to build a sense of camaraderie.
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
How well do you know your employees? Knowing things like hobbies, family situations or vacation plans helps a manager understand the uniqueness of the employee.
This isn’t about becoming best friends. It’s about caring that each individual has a life that is full and matters and that sometimes, work may need to bend a little to accommodate those things. A ballet recital, a kid’s ball game, volunteering at a local shelter: these things are the stuff of life that have substance and may require leaving the workstation early on occasion. The astute manager will support these things as excellent reasons to leave a little early.
6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
Providing opportunities for growth – whether within the employees area or outside – bolsters a sense of growth and advancement.
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
Managers should take opinions seriously even if the opinion is way off base by everyone else’s standards. The manager who can take every opinion into consideration, even those that cannot be acted upon, will have extended respect. This is one way mutual respect is built in the workplace.
8. Does the mission or purpose of my company make me feel that my job is important?
If an employee is unclear that the job they are performing really matters in the grand scheme of things, (ie your Mission Statement) he’s likely to feel less relevant. Many highly motivated employees will find that feel intolerable and will eventually bail.
It’s the manager’s job to make clear the objectives and relevance of each job.
9. Are my coworkers committed to doing quality work?
We are all highly influenced by those around us. We set the bar for each other in ways that we don’t even realize. The more greater number of motivated staff members, the easier it is to see the less motivated ones rise to the occasion. This is yet another reason why each and every individual employee must be acknowledged, appreciated and challenged by those in authority over her.
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
Managers can make it a point to offer opportunities for socializing between employees. There are creative ways from ordering lunch for the staff to meet ups after work.
Some introverts might answer “No” to this question and truly not find it problematic. They aren’t unhappy. They perform well on the job. Managers who possess some understanding of the make up of such an employee will know that the ‘loner’ type who chooses to skip ‘Happy Hour’ might be better suited to a different type of socialization.
11. In the past six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
This is about expectations again. Annual reviews may not be enough. And it is absolutely NOT enough if you have an employee who has been slipping in performance. Engaging with that employee may unveil a core issue that the manager can help to resolve.
12. This past year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?
This final question brings everything together. Given a nurturing work environment with responsibilities that fit the personality and skill along with opportunities to grow will promote employee engagement.
Having the answers to these questions can help managers create a thriving workplace that’s mutually beneficial to the company and its employees.