In Getting Engaged: The New Workplace Loyalty, Tim Rutledge describes an engaged employee as (1) attracted to their work, (2) committed to their work, and (3) fascinated by it.
Unfortunately, employee engagement is the exception.
Gallup’s most recent (2016) engagement survey indicated that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged in the sense that Rutledge describes above. And the most recent numbers we have for Canada (2011-2012) are only slightly better, with only 16% of the workforce engaged and 14% actively disengaged. In the US, employee engagement levels have not significantly moved for the past 15 years. Given that employee engagement affects a company’s bottom line, in Gallup’s words “[t]he world has an employee engagement crisis, with serious and potentially lasting repercussions for the global economy.”
With this in mind, it’s not enough to know about it.
We need clear, actionable steps to increase our team’s engagement levels.
Professors Gerard Seijts and Dan Crim, both from the department of Organizational Behaviour at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, identified ‘The 10 C’s of Employee Engagement’ in 2006. They are still a highly relevant blueprint for leaders:
1. Connect: To lead engagement, always start with an employee’s relationship with their boss. Does the employee believe that their manager cares about them? If not, then money spent on other initiatives is money wasted.
2. Career: To remain engaged, employees need to be challenged and stretched in the workplace in order to advance their career. At the same time, they need to be equipped with the tools and knowledge to succeed in these new challenges.
3. Clarity: Employees flourish when they understand how the purpose of their role fits into the purpose, vision and goals of the larger organization. Can they articulate their own goals, how they can achieve them, and how they fit in with the overarching targets of the company?
4. Convey: Leaders need to provide continual feedback so that their direct reports know how their performance is being addresses and how to improve. As performance management is moving away from the annual review and towards ongoing feedback, managers are well positioned to share their thoughts with their teams on a weekly or daily basis.
5. Congratulate: Too often our default is to give feedback when the employee has failed to meet expectations, and we forget to give them feedback on what they have done well. Praise and recognition are powerful tools for engagement.
6. Contribute: Do employees understand how their roles are contributing towards the organization’s success? Individuals who feel like cogs in a wheel whose operations they can’t see may feel very disengaged from the larger mission.
7. Control: Include your employees in the decision-making process, especially when they’ll be affected personally by the outcome. As far as possible (this will vary depending on experience level), let them choose how to get things done, organize their workflow, and solve problems. This feeds someone’s sense of being valued, their trust in management, and their ownership over their role.
8. Collaborate: Research has shown that healthy, trusting team relationships lead to better performance. If employees feel cared about by their colleagues, and can contribute to their teams, they are more likely to be engaged.
9. Credibility: Does your team feel proud of your organization and its reputation? By making sure your company maintains high ethical standards, you build your brand externally and give your team one more reason to believe in what they do.
10. Confidence: To become engaged employees, individuals need to be confident in their company and in its leaders’ decisions. Bear in mind that you lead by example, in both your ethics and performance.
There are a wealth of tools for employers who care about proactively cultivating employee engagement, including the Gallup StrengthsFinder. But regardless of whether you pursue external training, ensure that all your managers are aware of – and actively implementing – the ‘Ten C’s’. They will prove a robust foundation for building a committed and invested workforce.
Our RESULTS Members gain 24/7 access to our detailed webinar, “Team Engagement” (available in video and audio-only content), plus our transcript, Summary and Member Workbook to help work through the learning. Join our waitlist so you’re the first to know when we re-open registration.