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9 Ways to Create an Engaged Workforce

by John Zettler

November 10, 2015
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There’s been a lot of recent traffic on the Dale Carnegie website on the topic of Employee Engagement, and for good reason. Companies seem to be understanding the importance of having engaged workers, and maybe more importantly the risk of having disengaged workers. Still though there is a lot of confusion around what Employee Engagement actually is and how to achieve it. By no stretch is this article going to answer all your questions but hopefully it intrigues you enough to take this seriously for you and your business, and inspires you to take action.

Defining Engagement – The widely accepted definition of Employee Engagement is “an employee’s intellectual and emotional commitment to the company.” So what does that mean, why should we care, and how do we achieve Engagement within our businesses?

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Let’s start with the Why we should care. Here’s what the statistics show:

• Outperform the Competition – Organizations with highly engaged workforces outperform others by as much as 200%.
• Disengaged Employees are Expensive – Gallup estimates the cost of disengaged employees in the US cost $300 billion a year.
• 69% of disengaged employees will leave a company for as little as a 5% increase
• Increased Productivity and ROI – Actively engaged employees are more productive, make more money for the company, and are more ethical and accountable.
• Higher engagement = lower turnover which saves you money and increases productivity.

Now, how do we cultivate that emotional commitment and develop a culture of engagement? Well, the good news, or scary news depending on how you look at it, is we are the answer. Whether you’re a Leader within your company or an Owner, what we know is that a Culture of Engagement is significantly impacted by an employee’s belief and satisfaction with you.

In order to help employees get the connection you desire, here’s what we recommend you consider:

1. Be a Leader Employees Can Believe In – Belief in Senior Leadership is critical to engagement: Dale Carnegie’s research study found that “61% of employees who have confidence in their Leader’s abilities and think that Senior Leaders are moving the organization in the right direction are fully engaged.”

2. Cultivate a Workplace of Open and Honest Communication – When we have a culture of mutual respect it helps employees feel connected to the organization. Effective communication is a two-way street. We need to communicate what’s going on with the organization and we need to make it safe for people to provide input on how to make the organization even better.

3. Empower Employees by Creating a Collaborative and Supportive Environment – 61% of employees who say they are satisfied with the amount of input they have in decisions affecting their work are engaged.

4. Provide Recognition and Appreciation – Dale Carnegie says “Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.” He also says “Give honest and sincere appreciation.” In our training sessions we, often ask how many people receive too much appreciation? Zero, let me repeat, zero hands typically go up. This is the cheapest and most effective tool you have available to you, if you do nothing else, I encourage you to make this part of who you are as a Leader.

5. Become Interested in Your Employees – Dale Carnegie research shows that “Employees are more engaged if they feel their Leader cares about their lives outside of work and understands how that can affect job performance.” I’m not asking you to become friends with your team members, but I can assure you that becoming human and showing you care about who they are will have dramatic impact on both you and them.

6. Provide Direction and Purpose – Dale Carnegie says “People support a world they help create.” Providing people with an understanding of where you are as an organization and where you’re going will help them to build a sense of pride in the organization. And research shows that “Pride in the company and a positive workplace environment energizes people; they look forward to going to work and are willing to put in extra effort to make their organization a success.”

7. Provide Opportunities to Grow and Develop – This is a particularly important one for all employees and research shows that it’s even more important for the millennials in your company. A healthy growth and development plan consists of formal training, on-the-job training and coaching and mentoring. Ensure you are creating opportunities for your team to access all of these.

8. Focus on Strengths and Don’t Criticize – Myself included, at one point in my career, we all spend too much time focusing on what we need to improve. And while I still aspire to the notion that we all can and should learn, I also have seen great results by focusing on people’s strengths. It builds confidence, it’s engaging and empowering for employees, and it builds trust and respect.

9. Manage Your Emotions – Daniel Goleman research shows that the difference between a good and great Leader is our level of Emotional Intelligence “Our ability to recognize and understand our emotions and the emotions of others, and using this awareness to effectively manage ourselves and our relationships with others.” We need to lead by example and if we’re not in control of our emotions it will become contagious – our team will follow our lead!

Dale Carnegie research shows that “although 90% of organizations say engagement impacts business success, 75% do not have an engagement plan or strategy.” My experience suggests that building an engaged workforce is a journey and everyone needs to be committed to that journey. It requires planning and action and isn’t for the faint of heart. Dale Carnegie Business Group has a team of people who know how to build a strategy for success that will impact your business in a meaningful way. Give us a call and let’s get started on this journey together.

I leave you with this thought: Be the change you want to see in your organization. Commit to treating people with mutual respect, be willing to openly communicate and develop employees, and show genuine interest for them and you will see the results.

Please contact John Zettler at 905-826-7300 or jzettler@dalecarnegie.ca for more information.

Best Success!

John Zettler, Director, Talent Strategy
& Development, Dale Carnegie Training®
Contact me at 905-826-7300 x 235 or jzettler@dalecarnegie.ca

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Take a look at our previous Accelerated Talent Development Newsletters!

10 Engagement White PapersA recent research study by Dale Carnegie Training, identified the specific behaviors you need to employ to create an engaged workforce. Our Employee Engagement White Papers explore business issues and tips critical to for an organization’s success.Employee Engagement White Paper - Dale Carnegie
About the Author
“John’s commitment and passion to the growth and development of individuals, teams and organizations is evident,” says Kevin Crone, President and Managing Partner, Dale Carnegie Business Group. “His engaging and collaborative approach along with his strong business acumen and focus on results make him a great fit for our team. We are thrilled he has decided to join us.”Read more. 

John Zettler brings almost 20 years of human resource experience to the challenge of better leadership we all share. He has invested his skills and energies and debated leadership with some of our country’s best leaders. Through this, he has refined a style of management that focuses on leadership conviction, authenticity and caring as the cornerstones of a more nuanced set of management skills we can all benefit from.

Instead of balance in our life, he challenges us to a new style of work life blending that both gives us:

  1. The rush of seeing our people grow and prosper in a company that truly cares about them and their dreams.
  2. The time and focus to also contribute the same level of passion to the needs of our families.

To hear more of his insights, click here.

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Best practices in talent development are rapidly evolving and becoming increasingly critical to bottom line performance. If you would like to benchmark your performance in this area, and learn the tools and insights of Canada’s top talent development practitioners, please sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter on Accelerating Talent Development.

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