The Why (and How) of Employee Engagement

 -  2/22/12

Why we do what we do at work is just as important, if not more, than how we drive higher engagement among employees.

It’s time to treat engagement as a strategic priority, said Kevin Kruse, entrepreneur and CEO of Kru Research and co-author, along with Rudy Karsan, of We: How to Increase Performance and Profits Through Full Engagement.

That means applying the same rigor and analysis to engagement as we would any other area of management by measuring its success, holding leaders accountable and examining employees’ motivation at work.

In a conversation with Talent Management magazine, Kruse shared what’s wrong with engagement efforts today and how talent managers can help.

What’s the problem with engagement efforts today?
When a company feels it has an engagement issue or a retention issue, it becomes an HR department-driven effort. There will be a survey, there will be some training, there might be some lunch-and-learns around the topic, but at the end of the day it’s really not tied in as a strategic priority.

Engagement results will move when it’s not just a poster, when it’s not just a line in the annual report, when you say, “Manager, you’re going to be a leader of people, not just a leader of tasks. I’m going to measure you on it, I’m going to compensate you for it and I’m going to kick you out if you’re not doing it.”

How are today’s employee engagement drivers different than in years past?
Overall I don’t think the drivers of engagement have changed that much. Growth, recognition and trust tend to be the big drivers. How you trigger growth might vary from country to country or industry to industry, but in general people want to feel they are advancing and learning new things, that they are progressing. They want some recognition. They want to know that they count. They need to be able to trust their leader but also trust in the future.

Those are the evergreens in engagement. In the last couple of years, the challenge is with cutbacks. We’re all asked to do more with less, [and] we’re all managing more people than we did a few years ago. People who might have managed six people on a team now are managing 12. It’s harder to be a leader of people when you’re juggling being a manager of tasks. That’s the part that has changed.

Article Keywords:   engagement   employee engagement  


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