There was an interesting survey released recently by the people at Quantum Workplace, and the results have gotten a lot of attention in the HR space over the last week. The survey looks at employee engagement levels among companies that participated in the Best Places to Work program. What the study found was that engagement levels at those companies was higher than it had been since 2009 — by nearly 68 percent. But there was one statistic in this study that seemed particularly telling, and that was this: executive engagement at these businesses was almost 100 percent.

While we might assume that such a high level of engagement should be expected of these leaders who are being paid very well to be engaged, there must be something beyond pay grade that we can identify and then apply that to all employees in order to increase engagement across the organization.

Above Average Engagement

It is important to keep in mind that these numbers apply only to companies that are already considered great places to work, which means that these are companies that are already doing something right. These rankings often speak to a company’s culture; those that make these types of lists almost always have a good one. A great company culture and engaged employees have been proven to go hand in hand.

Here is a breakdown of the numbers by from the survey itself:

  • More than 91 percent of executive-level employees are engaged
  • 77 percent of managers are engaged
  • More than 68 percent of professional/technical employees are engaged
  • More than 66 percent of salaried employees are engaged

That is a pretty big difference between the top level of the organization and the salaried employees. Luckily, there are some lessons we can learn by looking at the C-suite that may help bridge the engagement gap.

Make Employees Feel Important

Executives know that what they do matters. That knowledge comes with the position. Their decisions can have a dramatic and sometimes obvious effect on the company. When you know that what you do carries that kind of weight and importance, then you are naturally more engaged in your role.

While knowing the stakes is a given for executives, for other employees, maybe three or four layers removed from those executives, the stakes may not be so clear—and that is precisely the problem. Study after study has shown that for employees to feel engaged they need to know that what they do is important. They are not just coming in to work, completing a task, and then leaving for the day. The things they do every day are moving the needle or working toward some goal or other, but perhaps in a less obvious way than the doings of those at the top. But every employee’s contribution impacts the company, and if that is not already being communicated, it needs to be.

Let Transparency Reign

Executives have a transparent view of the company. Employees need a similar view.

This second lesson goes hand-in-hand with the first. Not only do executives know their job is important, but they have a transparent view of the company. That allows them to see directly how the things they are doing are affecting performance.

It is this kind of transparency at all levels of an organization that could increase engagement. It may not be possible or even smart to open the books to all employees, but, luckily, you don’t have to do that in order to bring about more transparency.

Be honest with the employees. Let them know how their hard work has helped this quarter. Let them join the conversation by showing where your business is and where it wants to go—and how those employees can help get you there. By proactively providing employees with information about their specific impact on the company—through dashboards, team meetings, one-on-one meetings, town halls, and more—you let employees know that nothing of importance if being kept from them and how important they are to your team and your organization.

While every employee might not need a corner office, treating employees like executives in their own roles can go a long way toward improving your engagement strategy in the future.

24 July 2014

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