Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a worrisome trend of employees disengaging from their work. Sometimes dubbed “quiet quitting,” this trend has sent ripple effects throughout business organizations across the country.
To understand this problem, it’s first important to understand what employee engagement means. Generally, this term is used to denote team members who feel a sense of connection and commitment toward their organization and their teammates. In short, an engaged employee is truly invested in what they do, for reasons that go beyond just getting a paycheck.
Sadly, and despite massive corporate efforts to increase engagement, many teams still find that their numbers are low. Some surveys put the nationwide employee engagement level at under 25 percent. Tellingly, a Gallup study finds that almost half of disengaged employees attribute their attitudes to poor culture and lackluster leadership.
This is sobering, but it also points to some potential avenues for improving employee engagement. Specifically, it suggests that fostering the right kind of culture can help any organization to engage its employees more effectively.
Envisioning a Culture of Engagement
What does it look like to create this kind of culture? It may look different from organization to organization, but there are a few hallmarks that we’d say are essential.
Employees are most engaged when they feel like their hard work is recognized and valued. Figuring out how to show gratitude is the tricky part and may require some trial and error as you learn more about your team. Some employees are affirmed by a casual thank-you from their direct supervisor, while others might prefer a more public celebration.
Another important way to create a culture of engagement is to ensure your leaders are spending time with employees. It’s critical for managers, supervisors, and executives to step away from administrative work sometimes, and instead spending time coaching, leading, and developing personnel. Employees typically appreciate investments of time and attention.
Psychological safety is critical for boosting engagement. Simply put, employees need to feel like they can offer suggestions or even make mistakes without being publicly castigated. One way to create this sense of psychological safety is to normalize leaders owning up to their own mistakes or lapses in judgment.
For employees to feel engaged in their work, it’s crucial for you to show them why their job matters. Make sure your team has a clear sense of purpose, and that each person knows how their individual contributions serve that broader vision. Employee engagement hinges on team members feeling like what they do makes a difference, that they’re not just spinning their wheels or idling away with busywork.
As you seek to create a culture of engagement, be sure you’re capturing some quantifiable metrics so that you can monitor your progress. Sending out regular employee engagement surveys is a great place to start.
Finally, never underestimate the power of having fun together with your team. That doesn’t mean that simply buying a pool table or having Friday afternoon happy hours is automatically going to skyrocket your engagement. It does mean that providing opportunities for team members to bond, outside of their normal workplace roles, can be really meaningful in the long run.
Prioritize Engagement in Your Company Culture
To facilitate employee engagement, it’s crucial to develop the right kind of culture. That’s something we’d love to talk with you about. As you consider your needs for cultural refinement or change, reach out to the WhiteWater Consulting team at any time!