Leadership & Employee Engagement - the new psychological contract
Some outcomes of high engagement
- Customer satisfaction
- Employee retention
- Improved safety
- Better health outcomes
It has even been discovered that airline pilots who are more engaged use less fuel!
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee Engagement is a familiar phrase in the lexicon of business. Many consultancies will give you advice on how to measure it and how to improve it. Many organisations see it as being a vital part of their strategy.
Here in the UK, recent governments have backed the idea as a way of improving economic performance for the UK.
It's more than just improved performance, better working conditions or health and safety. Employee Engagement is about the heart of the psychological contract between an employee and employer.
What's the 'psychological contract'?
Back in the day, a job was expected to be a 'job for life' - assuming the employer remained viable and the employee delivered. Today staff stay for less time and employer recruitment and retention costs are much higher as a result.
Some people talk about 'Generation X, Y or Z' and their expectations from the workplace. The truth is, we all have different workplace and work expectations and the psychological contract is about how we go about satisfying those expectations (or not) and fully engaging people in the work they do.
Services that improve engagement
There is no single answer, no magic bullet. However there are four enablers common to organisations that have high engagement levels
- Leaders who are more coach-like in their approach. Trusting, praising and encouraging their staff; giving them challenging yet achievable work
- Leadership that sets a clear direction. People can see the meaning and purpose of their work; the link between what they’re doing and organisational goals
- The values that the organisation says it lives are actually lived People can see that that there's no gap between what the leadership says and what it does
- People feel they have a voice They know they can speak up; they feel central to the solution
Here at the Forton Group we offer leadership, communications and coaching services to develop your people and show them the skills they can use, every day, to build better employee engagement. We have a track record of supporting higher engagement scores, with evidence from Gallup to back us up.
Employee engagement is...
"Improving the quality of the conversations between manager and managed and those within the team."
"People being fulfilled, knowing that their work is meaningful, and organisations being successful"
Having a commitment to the organisation and its values. Knowing that the organisation takes an active interest in you as an individual.
“This is about how we create the conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential.”
Co-chair of Engage for Success
Listen to an interview clip with David, here:
Why is engagement important?
Productivity in the UK is 20% below the G7 average.
Analysis indicates that were the UK to move its engagement levels to the middle of the top quartile, this would create a £25.8bn increase in GDP.
This isn't just about 'keeping staff happy'. Every individual has different expectations from work, dependent social, cultural, environmental, and psychological factors.
What is important to us - to keep us ‘engaged’ - will vary from person to person. So employee engagement solutions need to be workable, flexible and adaptable to the individual.
It's about supportive and mutually beneficial relationships. So the responsibility for engagement lies with the organisation, the manager and the individual to deliver.
The expectation of involvement
People joining the workforce today have an expectation of involvement. They spend the first two decades of their life interacting with people, consulting, engaging, sharing; making decisions together.
Then they enter the workforce and we start telling them what to do, without involving them.
It’s no wonder engagement figures are so bad.
The old-fashioned 'commanding & controlling' approach is hard work for the managers and leaders.
If you have to have all the answers and make all the decisions, it’s very stressful.
Plus, you don’t have all the answers; so you’re missing out on the wealth of experience and ideas from people in your team
70% of employees say they do not trust their manager.
Whilst that may not have been important 100 years ago, the nature of work today means that trust is a vital component.
We are no longer just telling people to go produce widgets. We need to tap into the discretionary effort that people will give in the right circumstances.
We need people to engage their brains; to take more ownership and responsibility.
On a basic level, if we’re engaged, we are more productive, more helpful and supportive of our colleagues and with those people that we interact with from outside of our organisation. Many of us spend half our waking life working; if it’s not fulfilling, if it’s not enjoyable, it is giving us satisfaction, then that’s a lot of wasted time.
Your boss and the organisation can have a huge impact on whether you are engaged or not. As an employee, you also have a choice here.
It is estimated that only about one fifth of the UK workforce is highly engaged. More worryingly, another fifth are actively disengaged - they could be causing economic or reputational damage to your organisation.
There is a wealth of evidence showing the value of engagement.
- Organisations in the top quartile of engagement levels were 18% more productive
- Shareholder returns were 22% higher than the average.
- People who are engaged say that work brings out their creative side.
- Engaged employees take fewer sick days.
Perhaps the scariest statistic is in health; where engagement levels dropped in hospitals, nine months later, mortality rates rose.
- In one supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s, 15% of a stores year on year growth can be explained by the level of engagement.
- At RBS, there was a seven percentage point difference in customer service scores between the top 10% in the bottom 10%.
On a deeper level, it’s about having the right people in the right jobs; using talents and strengths to give people the opportunity to develop and be satisfied with the choices they’ve made.
So engagement is about talent management solutions; career growth and management.