What is Engagement and How Can You Influence It?
In part one of this series, we discussed the importance of recognizing that employee satisfaction and engagement are two different but related things. What more can be done to improve employee engagement levels?
Understand the drivers of satisfaction and engagement, and how they are related.
Engagement measurements tend to show parallels with psychologist Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs, ” a renowned theory that maintains people are motivated to fulfill their basic needs (such as hunger, safety and belonging) before they shift their focus on to achieving more advanced needs such as esteem, cognitive, aesthetic and self-actualization.
The same Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey that was mentioned in part one also measured the top factors contributing to job satisfaction and engagement. Satisfaction is typically focused on employees’ happiness with their current job and conditions, and factors that relate to the “what’s in it for me?” concept. The SHRM survey results showed that job security, opportunities to use skills and abilities and an organization’s financial stability were rated as top contributors to their job satisfaction.
Top engagement factors, however, were related to “what’s good for the organization”: the job itself, relationship between coworkers, and opportunities to use skills and abilities, as well as the contribution of their work to organizational goals.
How can organizations manage these seemingly divergent paths? By focusing on those drivers that, according to their survey rankings, most influence both satisfaction and engagement: relationship with immediate supervisor; opportunities to use skills and abilities, and; autonomy and independence.
Here are some recommendations as to how human resources leaders can focus their budgets and resources on maximizing engagement for their organization’s employees:
- Provide career development and opportunity. Organizations need to switch from a once or twice a year performance management mentality to a dynamic, ongoing discussion between employees and managers about development opportunities. Changing the organization’s framework to one where setting weighted goals, competencies and development activities that drive both individual needs and corporate objectives, and are discussed periodically throughout the year, is an important first step.
- Set clear consistent expectations. Employees should know what is expected of them, how their performance will be measured and how it contributes to overall company goals. Employees and managers should take the first step by setting clear and measurable individual goals that align with corporate objectives.
- Get feedback from managers in the moment. Feedback from managers should be more than an annual event. Managers help ensure employees stay productive and engaged by discussing progress toward goals, providing coaching for problem areas or challenges and acknowledging accomplishments on a continuous basis, rather than only during set “review cycles.” This will also help managers more successfully keep teams focused on strategic priorities that have meaningful organizational impact.
Recognizing the distinction between engagement and satisfaction is the first step to driving employee engagement. Knowing what to focus on and putting actionable strategies in place can go a long way to helping human resource leaders optimize these drivers across the organization.