Everyone is talking about how effective engagement is in raising the productivity of companies – which is right and true, as evidenced by the many studies Gallup has made over the years, involving hundreds of organizations and millions of employees in various countries and industries. It has been said time and again that companies whose employees are engaged with the work they do have lower turnover, reduced shrinkage, fewer safety incidents and less absenteeism. If you wish to engage your employees in their work, the logical method is to increase engagement by coming up with engagement action plans.
Engagement action plans hold great promise; however, based on the rates of engagement as surveyed by Gallup, these plans hardly bring any significant change despite the amount spent on the formulating and implementing them. What this phenomenon tells us is that we need to change the way we look at engagement.
Should we get rid of engagement action plans?
Action plans on their own are great, but most of the time they do not really bring forth the desired results. Just take a look at individual development plans. At first, everyone is eager to make the plan work. Fast forward to three months later and no one seems to remember that there is even a plan.
Some managers think that they can make action plans work by putting the plan online to increase visibility and passing the buck of monitoring and following up to HR. Unfortunately, this does not work either.
Focus on the Job
Before looking at making an action plan, look at the job. Do your employees find their work boring? More often than not, employees find themselves boxed in, forced to perform rigid duties by managers who think of nothing but increasing efficiencies and productivity. However, these managers need to look past standardized roles and instead pay more attention to making work challenging and rewarding for their employees. To engage your employees, you must look at your employees’ individual talents and give them roles that suit these talents. Enrich the work experience by developing your workers and supporting them as they move up and succeed.
Be a Supportive Leader
All action must come from business leaders and managers; they should act as role models for the staff, constantly inspiring and developing the employees. For example, instead of talking about deadlines and deliverables during evaluation and coaching, a manager like you must connect to the employee on a different level. Ask him what he thinks of his role, inquire about his challenges and get insights about what would make your organization better. By doing so, you make him feel that he is valued as a member of your company and that you respect his opinions. You must also remember to make your employees know how his contributions matter to the overall goals of your organization. This will result in more employee engagement and better performance.
As a leader, you must genuinely care for your employees. Know that development does not happen overnight, so you must invest time and energy in connecting with and helping your staff.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Companies create action plans to drive engagement. But more than these plans, what employees need is the action itself. While action plans are helpful, total reliance on them will not yield tangible results. Therefore, managers like you must have regular communication with your staff. You must also be able to help and support your employees by providing them resources that will aid them in coping with their individual tasks. To help you do all these, you can do research and share best practices with other managers.
Shift your thinking and drive better employee engagement. Make an engagement action plan if you must, but never forget to put it into action.