Is there a correlation between high engagement and high productivity levels?
There is ongoing debate as to whether workplace productivity levels can be directly improved by increasing employee engagement, however, the correlation between low engagement and low productivity levels is clear. Employee engagement is a critical aspect of any workplace, yet many workplaces do not actively concern themselves with engagement levels. Correlations between improved engagement and improved retention as well as increased workplace performance are commonly detectable in research results; and who doesn’t want these things for their business?
Gallup conducts regular research into engagement and while it has not clearly established a cause-and-effect relationship as such, it has identified the importance of monitoring engagement levels in line with a concern for employee wellness and well-being.
What, then, can be defined as engagement? Gallup states it as being, “an employee’s involvement with, commitment to and satisfaction with work”; they also generally find that as time is progressing, engagement levels are decreasing. The Hay Group also found that employees who were engaged were 49% more productive than those who were categorised as disengaged.
Certain factors can categorically improve engagement, according to research. Aspects such as concern for employee wellbeing, perception of job importance, effective reward and recognition, clarity of job expectations, advancement opportunities, regular feedback from authority, relationships with peers and the perception of the company as a whole in terms of ethics.
How do I begin?
Firstly, be aware that what engages employees may not necessarily be the same as what drives good business results. Increasing engagement is a purely emotional process; therefore the workplace environment needs to generate instances where the overall outcome is a positive emotion such as happiness, interest or enthusiasm. Increasing the frequency of positive emotions will lead to these feelings being subconsciously linked to the performance of the job and in turn an increased commitment to performing it.
Whilst there are no concrete, cause-and-effect research results that can be called upon to justify the link between productivity and engagement, there are plenty which point to higher retention rates, increased motivation and fewer sick days. It is easy to see how these instances will lead to increased productivity, engaged employees tend to complete things faster, get higher customer service ratings and demonstrate greater loyalty to their company.
First: Approach employees and ask for their input. This will get the best and most accurate information as to why and to what extent employees are feeling disengaged. A direct conversation between manager and staff is not suitable; the key concern here is honesty which means employees need to feel unthreatened. (An external interviewer may be hired, or engagement questionnaires can be useful.)
Next: Have a conversation with employees about the results, discuss the findings and how it will be addressed and resolved, not forgetting to listen to suggestions from employees themselves. Let it be made clear that there will be responsive actions taken. This needs to include every single level of authority and department throughout the business.
Finally: Identify which behaviours you want to be displayed or improved upon, these become the basis for reward and the reason for motivation.
For example, if employees reported feeling they have little impact on the business this may drag down attendance rates. Create a behavioural goal of good service and set out to recognise when an employee displays exceptional customer service. Once employees begin to be recognised, display the recognition in line with a measurable example of how good customer service positively affects the business, whether it’s the value of the sale, positive feedback on a customer survey or simply a commonly experienced problem that was effectively resolved. The aim is to show the ultimate results of an employee’s actions and therefore address the lack of impact that employees may experience and instil a sense of accountability.
Throughout the process, it is important to:
Support growth: No employee wants to be in a dead-end job; seeking out and offering opportunities for growth in terms of career development and management generates loyalty.
Show you appreciation: Reward and recognise, make it immediate and targeted at the individual, this can be achieved through the implementation of a reward and recognition program. We recommend Power2Motivate.
Follow up: Ensure that the approach and execution are addressing the problems uncovered initially; if they are off target it is a waste of time and resources.
Mark is the General Manager of Power2Motivate APAC, delivering world class employee recognition and B2B loyalty programs to a wide range of clients.
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