You can’t afford NOT to read this: Great advice from Gallup on engagement

nap podThe folks at Gallup (who study just about everything people do on Earth) have recently come out with a report on exactly how engaged U.S. workers are these days. Gallup has been studying engagement for over a decade and has dished out solid advice for lo those many years. And yet, as this year’s study shows, employee engagement hasn’t improved much at all.

The kicker is that having an engaged workforce greatly improves the bottom line. So why aren’t we getting any better at it? Maybe engaging employees is too hard or too time consuming. Maybe companies don’t care. Or maybe they don’t believe there’s a correlation between engagement and increased revenue.

It is true that engagement isn’t simple. Engagement is NOT an annual survey dolled out by HR. Engagement is NOT a performance review. A culture of engagement has to start at the top and is integrated throughout the company’s policies and habits.

Engagement begins with getting the right people in leadership positions. Those leaders must be capable of supporting, positioning, empowering, and engaging their employees. That’s not an easy task, and not everyone will be good at it. Managers need to be trained and coached on how to engage their employees. Good managers identify the strengths of their employees and actively seek their input.

And it’s not enough to get the right people in the right jobs. Leaders need to be held accountable not just for their projects, but also for how well they are achieving their engagement goals. People need to establish realistic goals they can fulfill on a daily basis, like including the right people in meetings, asking for input, or saying thanks. If they miss their mark, hold them accountable!

Gallup argues that not every survey tool is created equal. Their survey instrument, Q12, is said to measure an employee’s willingness to go the extra mile and collects specific actionable data that a company can use to make changes. The survey explores things like what individuals get from their role, whether they feel valued, how well they feel they belong, and whether they feel they can grow and innovate. Measuring how well we engage our employees will guide us in our actions down the road.

Engagement isn’t a one-size fits all kind of thing. Leaders need to understand that people of different ages, genders, tenure and educational attainment all need to be engaged in distinct ways. It’s worth figuring it out though. Engagement not only has a dramatic impact on the bottom line, it also greatly reduces absenteeism, safety incidents, and turnover.

Sure, people want to brag to their friends that their office has all the coolest perks (nap pods, anyone?). But what really matters at the end of the day isn’t whether your employees have a treadmill desk but rather if your employees are engaged in every level of their work. If there’s one thing you do this week, read this report and learn the effective strategies for engaging your workforce.