Employee engagement impacts company culture, productivity and customers and most companies complete employee engagement surveys and even create plans to address gaps so why is it still an issue year on year?
"Research indicates that workers have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company." ~ Zig Ziglar
Most employee engagement surveys ask about these things (above quote) and more around their managers, vision, career, training, environment, company values etc. All of which are key to improving motivation and performance. Done well it's a win-win for the company and the employee.
Throughout my corporate career and in my business I've seen many leaders struggle to improve employee engagement and satisfaction. Some times it's because they have missed something in their improvement plans like if you change one thing e.g. roles, then you also need to review hiring, reward, measurement, processes and training to ensure they continue to support the changes you make. Other times there is something else going on that needs to be addressed.
“Over 90% of employee engagement, motivation & productivity can be improved by the individual employee themselves – it’s just that until now most haven’t known how.” ~ Ian Hutchinson, Author - People Glue
What role does or should the employee play in engagement?
Don't get me wrong I believe that Employers have the biggest role and responsibility for employee engagement. I also happen to feel that employees have a certain degree of ownership as well.
For example if I choose to work long hours and bring work home because it suits me (e.g. young and see it as a way to get ahead, on assignment away from family so throw myself into work, etc. etc.) then should I respond 'Strongly Disagree' to the question 'I have a good work-life balance' (a common question in engagement surveys)? Or should I own the fact that it's my choice, respond accordingly and not expect the company to do something about it?
So why don't employees take more ownership for their engagement?
Some of the reasons might include:
They don't know how
They don't like the choices
They truly believe they have no responsibility for it
If your recruiting doesn't look for an individuals willingness and ability to take personal ownership for their work, their wellbeing and their choices, and, if you have no training for employees that covers behaviours expected and ways they can take ownership then you might consider reviewing them. That should be a good start to addressing all three of these areas. Training and coaching you people managers and leaders on how to help employees understand what it means and how they can do it is also necessary to make sustainable change.
If you've done that and you have people who have slipped through the cracks then the choice is tougher but just as the way we all feel/react as individuals is a choice so is making the tough choices about what is acceptable and what is not.
Food for thought....
“…you have to want to be engaged. There has to be deep-seated desire in your heart and mind to participate, to be involved, and to make a difference. If the desire isn’t there, no person or book can plant it within you.” ~ Tim Clark