How to design a road map toward an engaged workforce

Kelly Pacatte, MBA, SPHR, senior human capital consultant, TriNet, Inc.

Kelly Pacatte, MBA, SPHR, senior human capital consultant, TriNet, Inc.

Can you prove the ROI of employee engagement? According to a Gallup survey, companies with world-class engagement have 3.9 times the earnings per share growth rate compared to their competitors with lower engagement. The challenge is planning a route to get employees engaged.

“Our research has shown that there are three buckets — the engaged group, the disengaged group and the people in the middle. Ideally, we want all employees to be engaged. The first step is to move the disengaged group to the middle bucket,” says Kelly Pacatte, MBA, SPHR, senior human capital consultant at TriNet, Inc.

Smart Business spoke with Pacatte about strategies to move workers forward to becoming engaged employees.

How can companies motivate disengaged employees toward that middle bucket?

There are four basic tips to follow:

  • Pay according to market value. Many executives don’t like to hear it and would rather offer training or take similar steps. But paying accordingly is critical in moving disengaged employees up.
  • Limit organizational reductions in force. While hard to do, it’s impossible for employees to become engaged if they fear losing their jobs.
  • Manage organizational changes. Whether a market change or leadership change, proactively communicate it to move disengaged workers into the middle.
  • Increase trust. Make sure all employees see the value in their company and believe in the brand. Executives must be visible and accountable.

While paying accordingly is important, pay isn’t necessarily a motivating factor; it’s a baseline. Employee motivation is like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. People need to be taken care of, have the supplies needed to do the job, know what their job is and be paid accordingly. Once those baseline needs have been met, you can move employees to becoming engaged.

Does engagement strategy differ by company?

To have an engaged workforce, every company needs to deliver key components:

  • Leadership that clearly communicates goals and where the organization is headed.
  • Leadership that connects with employees.
  • The jobs employees are doing must provide meaningful work.

Implementation varies by company, but those are factors that all companies use to increase engagement. Sometimes, that may mean increasing employee development or focusing on mentoring opportunities; the ways these are done differ by company and industry.

How do you decide which programs will accomplish these goals?

The process starts with an employee engagement survey to determine what areas need work. The survey provides a baseline for how engaged the workforce is. To achieve best results, develop the survey with experts from a third party who understand what motivates employees. In addition, employees are more likely to respond because there’s no fear of retaliation.

When you receive the results, company management needs to realize you can’t change everything. Based on responses, develop a plan for areas that require immediate attention. If there’s something that can be done, work on a plan to change that. If not — and this is key — explain why. It’s important for employees to know that action is taken regarding a survey. Maybe there was overwhelming feedback that more training is needed, but you don’t have the ability to do that right away. Senior leadership needs to let employees know they were heard. While leadership can’t work on a development strategy immediately, it will take specific steps to deliver on the request.

If you’re doing a survey, some changes have to be made. Employees don’t want to spend time filling out a survey, only to find out nothing has changed.

After you implement changes, measure to see if there’s been an increase in revenue or productivity. Generally, a baseline is measured before the survey and six months to a year later to see if those factors increased.

Engagement takes a long time. But if you are genuinely trying to increase employee engagement, you will get a return on your investment.

Kelly Pacatte, MBA, SPHR, is a senior human capital consultant at TriNet, Inc. Reach her at (972) 789-3960 or [email protected]

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