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How engaged are your employees? How does this affect the team as a whole? What is employee engagement, and how can you measure it?

These are common questions managers are (and should be) asking themselves. Employee disengagement is a problem that can create a domino effect in your organization, causing unhappiness, turnover and even profit declines. As a leader, focusing on how to improve employee engagement should be a high priority.

A new study, Employee Engagement Report 2011, from global consulting firm Blessing White defined engagement as: an employee’s contribution to a company’s success and the personal satisfaction in that role. The stud found that only 31 percent of employees are engaged in their work and 17 percent are actively disengaged (from a sample of 11,000 individuals in North America, India, Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia/New Zealand and China).

Important Findings from the Employee Engagement Report:

  • Despite an overall increase in engagement, more employees are looking elsewhere. 61 percent say that they plan to remain in their current job for the next 12 months.
  • More employees who are considered high performers are planning to leave; 25 percent are looking at other job opportunities.
  • The biggest reason employees give for leaving their jobs is the need for opportunities to grow and advance in their careers.
  • The top two factors that drive job satisfaction among employees are: having career development and training and having more opportunities to work in areas in which they excel.
  • Only 52 percent of respondents agreed with this statement: “I have career opportunities in this organization”

How to Improve Employee Engagement as a Manager

1. Keep up an ongoing conversation.

Sit down with each of your employees individually and have a positive coaching discussion about their priorities, goals and vision for the future. Ask specific questions about how you can help them in their career goals, such as “What do you most enjoy doing in your job?” and “What kind of coaching and feedback is most helpful to you?” Seek honest responses about what can improve the work environment, such as “What are the obstacles that can hurt your personal effectiveness?” and “What can I do to support you better?” Set up another time to check in again, and keep the lines of communication open.

2. Give clear direction.

Discuss the importance of each employee’s job and role within the organization. Outline what her top priorities are and find ways to support her in these objectives. Be transparent about organizational goals; employee engagement depends on an employee aligning her values and goals with the organization’s.

3. Support talents and career goals.

Get to know each employee and his personal talents and aspirations. What motivates him at work? What roles does he enjoy the most, and in which areas does he excel? Provide career development opportunities in the areas he is most interested in, and make it clear that his career growth and success is valuable to the organization.

What are your ideas for how to improve employee engagement? Share them in the comments section.

Learn more about EDSI’s Communicating to Manage Performance course.

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