"Only 34% of employees are engaged at work."
Job satisfaction is at an all-time low. TGIF is considered a normal way to think. Does it have to be that way? Kevin Kruse doesn’t think so. He shows us how to help our teams be more engaged in Employee Engagement 2.0.
Kevin is globally recognized as a leading expert in employee engagement and leadership. He is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author and Forbes columnist.
He discovered answers from necessity. When his first company failed and he found himself deeply in debt living out of his one-room office and showering at the YMCA, he discovered the power of Wholehearted Leadership and employee engagement. He went on to build and sell several multimillion dollar technology companies, winning both Inc. 500 and Best Place to Work.
In this book he exposes a recipe for eight weeks to employee engagement.
The Big Idea
The benefits of an engaged employee
"Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to the organization and its goals."
We have all done satisfaction surveys. But to what end? Kevin explains that satisfied doesn’t mean engaged. This is a big misconception. Someone could be satisfied at work watching the clock and checking boxes. Engaged employees care more and work harder. They aren’t just doing it because they have to, for the paycheck or even to get a better corner office.
Why do you want an engaged employee? There are tremendous benefits for your company. These are the people who will use discretionary effort to go the extra mile. They work just as hard on Monday morning as Friday afternoon. They are less likely to be lured away by the call of a head hunter. You therefore incur less recruiting costs, lower training and on-boarding costs. It is the secret sauce that leads to higher stock price.
In a study conducted by Kenexa, the most engaged companies had five times higher total shareholder return over five years compared to least engaged. A Towers Perrin study shows that engaged companies have 6% higher net profit margins.
Culture always trumps strategy. If you have the best strategy in the world, but the people implementing that strategy don’t care, guess what? It doesn’t matter how good your strategy is. And the reverse is true. Maybe your strategy isn’t quite right, but you have engaged people working on it. Well, they will make it work.
Perhaps most importantly, engagement has an incredible impact on the quality of the lives of your people and their families. Did you know that if a parent has a bad day at work, his/her child is more likely to misbehave in school the next day? If you want your people (and you!) to be happier in life, enjoy better health, better marriages and happier kids, engagement is key.
Think about the ripple effect of your efforts to create employee engagement!
"People join companies but leave their boss."
Kevin bluntly tells us “You are responsible for the engagement of your team. Don’t look elsewhere.” 70% of the variance in engagement comes from one’s relationship with one’s boss.
But then he softens the blow with some good news that you can do this! You can increase your employees’ engagement. He teaches us how. A Google search yields many complex models but Kevin believes it can be boiled down to four things:
- Communication – Do your team members feel that there is frequent, consistent two-way communication?
- Growth and Development – Do your team members feel like they are learning new things and advancing their careers?
- Recognition and Appreciation – Do your team members feel appreciated and that their ideas count?
- Trust and Confidence – Do your team members trust the leadership and have confidence in the organization’s future?
Eight weeks to engagement
"To make engagement a daily priority, focus less on the profit reason and more on the people reason."
Kevin outlines a plan to increase your employee engagement in only eight weeks. A great place to start is to authentically connect with your people and your desire to help them. Then read his book and commit to applying the tips.
Week 1: Build a survey – Use the survey questions he provides around the topics of communication, growth, recognition and trust to create a survey in SurveyMonkey.
Week 2: Measure it – Send the link to all your direct reports or have a heartfelt conversation using his questions as a guide.
Week 3: Analyze results – Use the online survey software to run simple reports. Create a couple of slides to summarize.
Week 4: Share and discuss results – Call a team meeting and facilitate a discussion of the results.
Week 5: Establish a rhythm of communication – Send out calendar invites for all your one-on-one meetings and team meetings. Schedule a whole year’s worth.
Week 6: Hold career meetings – Set up meetings specifically for them to share career path plans and discuss what they need to get there.
Week 7: Develop recognition habits – Create daily habits to catch team members doing good things and thank them for it.
Week 8: Build Trust and confidence – Review your company’s strategic plan and think about ways you can reinforce it. Make sure everyone is crystal clear on how they can contribute to the goal.
After this initial eight weeks, you must continue, daily to create an environment that ritualizes two-way communication and fosters growth, recognition and trust. Every six months repeat the survey process and the one-on-one meetings.
If you work in a big company, you likely have these processes already in place. But are you practicing all the elements he describes? Unlikely. One sad statistic from Kevin’s book is that only 10% of adults say thank you to a colleague each day. Only 7% express gratitude to a boss.
A caveat Kevin adds is this. If you want to apply all these ideas just to increase your company’s bottom line, you are likely to fail. To make it work, you must authentically focus less on the profit reason and more on the people reason. Feel the extraordinary influence you can have over your people and their families. Be mindful of engagement on a daily basis and create habits for communication, growth, recognition, and trust so your team can enjoy the benefits of full engagement.
Imagine the impact you can have!