Employee Engagement is an Emotional Activity

According to a Dale Carnegie study, employee engagement is ‘the emotional and functional commitment an employee has to his or her organization”. This study shows:

  • $11 Billion is lost annually due to employee turnover
  • Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%
  • 71% of all employees are not fully engaged

Employee Engagement is an Emotional Activity

There are many studies and reports that support this and what we know about engaged employees is:  they are the drivers of productivity, revenue and organizational success. Leaders who understand this identify ways to ensure their workforces are committed to doing great work. In recent years we have relied heavily on technology as a means to measure engagement as well as provide what seems to be ‘solutions’ to engagement. Some of us have likely created an employee engagement survey and many more of us have probably completed one. And we’ve seen tools implemented for employee and manager self-service.

So now that we have the surveys and technology in place, we’ve done our job, right? Perhaps not.

Why would I say that? Well, I had the opportunity to attend Paul Hebert’s session Humanize Employee Engagement, once at Louisiana SHRM and a second time at Minnesota SHRM (one more time and I might be labeled a groupie). This is a thought-provoking presentation during which Paul discusses how technology is failing us in our efforts to engage employees, why we need emotional connections, and how to create emotional connections to impact employee engagement. A key take away for me is this: in our efforts to automate everything, we are striping away what makes us human, because technology does not handle variability well. Hmmm….

Near the conclusion of the session, a question was posed to the group; “What are some of the actions your organizations are taking to engage your employees?” A couple of participants shared the following:

At a major furniture retailer, front line employees are responsible for lifting, moving, and delivering furniture. At the beginning of shifts, managers lead stretching sessions to get the employees and their bodies prepared for the heavy lifting. During these sessions, managers and employees have the opportunity to meet, interact, exchange ideas and information as well as get ready for the day!

At an organization that provides residential services and education for people with developmental disabilities, they hold an annual employee appreciation dinner. In addition to being able to relax and socialize, employees are recognized for their years of service. With several team members having more than 30 years of service, this tradition has become a favorite event with the staff.

Note, there is no technology involved with either example. It’s about people connecting with people! These are both great ideas and pretty easy to implement.While an employee appreciation dinner, with awards, could come with a high price tag – think about the cost of having a disengaged workforce or the price of turnover at your organization. Where would you rather spend your time and money?

If you have employees who are responsible for engagement, I recommend you attend this session at an upcoming conference or connect with Paul for a discussion on how to emotionally connect with and engage your workforce! In the meantime you can discover solutions on your own by identifying what assets your organization has to express your culture. What is your brand statement? Use that to then determine actions you can take to connect with your employees and have them engage with you and what your company is doing. Or, if you do have an employee engagement survey, read the feedback provided by your employees and follow up.

Are you are immersed in what you do and are excited about it, I’d love to hear about what goes on in your organization that keeps you going back for more!

Alicia McDougal


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