In HR speak, engagement is defined as being when employees are fully connected with their employer's business.
They believe in what the organisation is trying to accomplish and are therefore much more likely to give their all in helping that organisation to succeed.
A recent Gallup survey has indicated a mere 23 per cent of New Zealand employees were mentally and emotionally engaged in their jobs.
More than 60 per cent of Kiwi respondents were found to be "not engaged". Meaning that they were uninspired, lacked motivation and did just enough to fulfil their job requirements.
Fifteen per cent were "disengaged" meaning they were not only unhappy at work but likely to act out that unhappiness.
As a former employee I now offer advice to employers/managers to assist in ensuring their employees are engaged:
Do not expect your employees to work above and beyond what is required of them in their job description if you do not work hard yourself.
Do not underestimate how obvious it is to your employees if you are lazy, spend much of your time drinking coffee, are on the internet all day or have long weekends every week.
There is nothing more galling for an employee to be asked to work through a lunch hour or at a weekend on the basis that it is expected of them if the boss hasn't set an example.
Do not talk about your holiday home in Wanaka or Queenstown.
It has always surprised me how people do not realise that talking about their "lifestyles of the rich and famous" may be a disincentive to those working on the minimum wage.
When I was working for "the man" and did not think I was being paid enough, I did not want to hear about how my efforts were going to make someone else wealthy - it annoyed me. (I accept this may be very chip-on-shoulder working- class of me )
If you are a man and have a partner who comes to work do tell her it is best that she not spend too much time discussing her disappointment that her 25 metre marble kitchentop had to be replaced due to a crack.
Suggest also that if she works part time or not at all and spends considerable amounts of time on coffee dates, it is best not to complain about how stressed and tired she is.
Spend your own money on your employees once in a while.
Buy drinks, shout morning tea. This ties in to point number one.
People are far more likely to work hard for you (which after all means that you make more money) if they like and/or respect you. Human beings are relatively simple.
If people treat us decently, generally we like them and we will work harder, even if it means that the person who is really benefiting from our working hard is the employer and not us.
Praise good work. If people have gone "above and beyond" acknowledge it.
Do not take the sole credit when the credit belongs to the team.
Most employers or managers rely upon their employees to help make them look good. If things go well acknowledge that it went well partly because of the efforts of your employees.
Finally, realise above all that employees want to enjoy their jobs and for most of them (especially generation Y) it's not all about the money.
Secondly, realise that if your employees are engaged, they will work harder and you will make a better profit - it really isn't rocket science.
* Mary-Jane Thomas is a partner at Preston Russell Law. She is always interested in ideas for articles. Email her at Mary-Jane.Thomas @prlaw.co.nz.
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