Lead and Communicate to Drive Employee Engagement

by Amy Charles & Trevor Clarke

Lead and Communicate to Drive Employee Engagement

Every morning, millions of us wake up, pour some coffee, get the kids off to school and then head out for the daily commute. But there are some that just seem to do it with more enthusiasm, verve and delight. Sure, some of these people are simply morning people or maybe they are feeling the caffeine kick in. But there are those that feel this way because they are excited about their work, they feel fully engaged with what they do and they feel that they are helping to drive the success of an organization that not only employs them, but also empowers and listens to them.

We'd all love to hire and work with such people. An engaged employee is a productive employee and a positive influence on others. The more productive employees in the organization and the more positive energy generated within the organization, the more successful it will be.

But what exactly is employee engagement? And how do you foster it in your organization to achieve maximal results on both the HR front and the bottom line?

Simply put, employee engagement is the willingness of each employee to strive to do their best work on a daily basis. Employee engagement is how each individual employee connects, both emotionally and intellectually, with your organization and with your customers and clients. An engaged employee is fully involved in and enthusiastic about their work. They are committed, passionate and inspired - and they inspire others by example. They care about the future of the organization and are willing to invest the discretionary effort to see that the organization succeeds. Characteristically these employees feel empowered to bring the best of themselves and the organization to their roles. Work has many definitions and forms, but at the root it is a series of relationships, both internal and external. Enabling employees to act in those relationships is at the heart of engagement.

It is no wonder that employee engagement has become a leading indicator of performance and competitiveness across all organizations.

But it is easier said than done.

What makes for an engaged employee?

Two top areas that drive engagement are leadership and communication. Employees look to the organization's leadership for vision, inspiration, and frankly, leadership. And they expect that the organization will offer an open stream of communications between them and leadership so both are informed and engaged. Improvements in these areas will have a significant impact on employee engagement.

But not every organization in Canada is succeeding on that front. In fact, many are failing.

According to 2011 data collected from the Ipsos Representative Employee Database, conducted with a sample of 2,013 employees across Canada, organizations in this country are not faring as well as they might hope.

The results show that Canadian employers are not communicating very well with their employees. Less than half (46%) of Canadian employees are satisfied with internal communications, but more than a quarter (27%) are dissatisfied.

Since communication is a two way street, organizations have to both communicate with employees and listen to their concerns. But again, only half (49%) of Canadian employees feel their organization is listening to them.

Looking at the various teams within an organization, things are rosier, as communications within teams scores a better result - two thirds (64%) are satisfied. Again, there is still opportunity to improve.

Employees also feel that organizational leadership appears to be disconnected from employees.

When asked, less than half (47%) of Canadian employees say they feel that their Senior Management Team communicates a clear vision. A quarter (25%) disagree with that statement and another quarter (26%) have no strong feeling either way.

Less than half (48%) of Canadian employees have confidence in the decisions made by their Senior Management Team; just under a quarter (23%) would be inclined to disagree.

This means that there is room for improvement for many organizations across Canada, and in some case, the situation is more severe.

So what can you do?

Many organizations conduct employee engagement surveys only to find results that are poor or unchanging.

In August, Ipsos and the Canadian Management Centre undertook a survey of Canadian employees to take a look at just what engagement means from the employee perspective. In addition to asking Canadian employees in more than 15 sectors, representing a diverse set of companies, Ipsos and CMC also surveyed HR professionals. This study will provide a unique view into what matters, what's working, and what can be done to improve employee engagement in Canadian companies.

Results will be available in the Fall of 2012 and contain a detailed analysis of the method of communication, content of communications and leadership in the workplace. We intend to understand ways to improve employee engagement, by understanding the measurable impact of leadership trust and how it affects the performance of the organization. The study results will also help to uncover the drivers of loyalty among Canadian employees and inspire leaders to devise strategies to improve collaboration, innovation and business results. Because after all, employee engagement runs deep, right to the core of any successful organization. And building a better workplace means creating a stronger organization.

About the Canadian Management Centre

We're passionate about one thing: Inspiring you to outperform.

Since 1963, Canadian Management Centre's proven and continually evolving career development and management training programs have been a catalyst for positive change. Transforming immediate and long-term performance for generation after generation of individual leaders and organizations, opening up lines of internal communication and shortening learning curves with first time managers to engaging, keeping and advancing high potential employees.

Each year, we team up with more than 15,000 of tomorrow's aspiring and driven business leaders, teaching, guiding and motivating them with more than 100 high energy high-calibre corporate onsite and open enrollment seminars. A strategic affiliate of American Management Association International, Canadian Management Centre is a trusted partner in worldwide training programs.

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