How Effective Leadership Development Can Increase Employee Engagement
The Gallup Organization recently released new data that shows employee engagement at an all-time high. While this type of headline is certainly good at getting more page views, it doesn’t tell the full story: that only one-third of U.S. employees report that they are “engaged” in the workplace. This leaves the other two-thirds who are either “not engaged” (50%) or worse: “actively disengaged” (17%).
Take a moment to let that sink in.
If your organization is like most, the majority of your workforce is simply marking time until the end of the work day; they’re probably doing just enough to not get fired. And a percentage of that group are even further disconnected from your organization and its mission. You’ve likely spent a considerable amount of time building a corporate culture, establishing core values, and working to hire people who will not only fit in well, but will also make an impact and help the business thrive.
In another study from 2013, Gallup reported that employee engagement peaks during the first six months of a new position – the period they dub the “honeymoon phase.”
As we’ve seen signs of improvement in the economy, more companies are hiring and the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.5%. That means there are plenty of workers who are currently in that honeymoon phase loving their new jobs. Perhaps part of that love affair can be attributed to the fact that many of those landing new gigs were previously unemployed – so it stands to reason that one would naturally feel more engaged upon reentering the workforce after being gone for any amount of time.
Still, the upward trend in employee engagement is promising. But how should companies work to sustain employee engagement for the long haul?
Here are three resources to help you think about learning and leadership development programs that help you achieve a number of lofty goals – including increasing levels of engagement.
- In a 2014 blog post, I shared three suggestions that could lead to better employee engagement:
- Developing skills of mid-level and senior managers
- Ensuring the right people are in the right positions
- Reconnecting people to purpose
- A recent Vistage white paper highlighted the importance of collaboratively developing leaders within an organization. Highlighting examples from companies like Equifax, the paper describes a holistic approach to the leadership journey, which undoubtedly increases employee engagement (along with several other benefits).
- Encouraging honest dialogue in the workplace helps foster a sense of trust and openness that can lead to some real breakthroughs in communication and organizational progress. In another piece from last year, I outlined some ways that effective leadership development programs can create this type of forum where leaders challenge assumptions and hold each other accountable. The results point to a stronger team, better relationships, and ultimately more engaged leaders.
Employee engagement is a constant concern – not just something that comes to the surface during an annual survey or worse, an external poll. Your leadership development efforts should reflect the importance of these ideas by encouraging your executives to learn new skills, commit to better communication and build stronger relationships at every level of your organization.