Engagement Is a State of Mind

  • workforce insights
  • May 12, 2014
The recession and economic recovery have changed the way countless U.S. employees view the workplace, leading many to replace the question of “Do I love my job?” with “Do I have a job?” 

But as the economy improves and employees feel less vulnerable, they will also feel less beholden to their employer and may seek out new opportunities. Over the past several years, workforces have been stretched thin, and many employees continue to do more for the same or less pay, an employment “necessity” that will lose traction as the economy continues to improve.  

For example, a CareerBuilder survey in February found the share of U.S. workers satisfied with their jobs fell to 59 percent this year – down from 66 percent last year. And Gallup’s most recent workplace survey found that nearly 70 percent of workers are either not engaged with their jobs or are actively disengaged.

It is with these red flags and the prospect of increased employee transition that savvy employers should put employee engagement front and center of their hiring and retention strategies.

Engagement Defined
Employee engagement is generally defined as the commitment an employee makes not just to the job but to the organization as a whole—which can significantly drive productivity. Highly engaged employees offer more discretionary effort to their employers and are more motivated to make a strong contribution to their jobs. There is no single driver of engagement – it’s really a state of mind employees hold based upon how well the workplace supports their attitudes, motivations and desires.

Engagement Ideas: Recognition, Bonuses, Flexibility and More 
According to Randstad’s most recent Engagement Study (a national sample of 2,257 adults aged 18 and older who are currently employed full-time), employees ranked personal recognition, the opportunity for promotions or bonuses and workplace flexibility as the top three benefits driving engagement. In fact, employee recognition is particularly important to women when it comes to engagement: 39 percent of women said a crucial engagement factor is being recognized for their contributions and achievements, compared to 32 percent of men. 

"Showing employees your appreciation is relatively simple," said Michelle Prince, Senior Vice President, Talent Management, for Randstad North America. "Managers can help a talented team member feel more valued by engaging in more frequent communication, showing appreciation for contributions (even just saying “thank you” goes a long way), providing balanced and constructive feedback, offering a more flexible work schedule or proposing opportunities to advance and grow through coaching, mentoring or training."

Engagement Starts at the Top
Engaged leaders help to create engaged employees. When managers and senior executives walk the walk and talk the talk, they reinforce belief in the company’s mission and leadership. Realistically, most employees look to their direct managers to make sense of the broader organization, set their visions and goals and evaluate how their personal beliefs tie to the company’s mission. Therefore, it’s extremely important that managers model an engaged attitude and workplace demeanor.

Critical to this mission is teaching your organization’s leaders to: 

Establish a clear vision, strategy and direction for the organization 
Communicate strategic direction (and often) and use it to motivate and inspire employees
Align actions with words (living the values)
Recognize and appreciate employees
Set positive examples
Address work/environment needs
Support employees’ well-being 
Be visible role models for building and managing strong workplace relationships

Are you utilizing these engagement strategies in your organization? Let Randstad assist you with your staffing needs. To learn more, click here