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What drives employee engagement?

According to a recent Gallup poll on the State of the American Workplace, “70% of U.S. Workers Are Not Engaged at Work“.  The dictionary describes ‘engaged’ as committed, involved, interested…  So, that means that only 30% of working Americans have a true sense of belonging in their job or at their organization.  If that’s true, are we in a downward spiral or can this be resolved?  Experts have a lot to say about employee engagement and the strategies to address it.

Bob Lavigna, Director of the Institute for Public Sector Employee Engagement, a division of CPS HR Consulting has become an authority on what motivates people to want to contribute to the success of an organization.  He considers leadership to be the #1 driver of engagement.  “You can’t get anything done unless you have talent, but in government there is less opportunity to reward monetarily.”  So how do you keep an employee feeling like they are appreciated?  In his paper, Improving Employee Engagement: A Public Sector Leadership Imperative, Lavigna describes areas of focus that employers can adopt to keep employees satisfied.  Examples include:

  • Make building a culture of engagement a strategic priority – In other words, engagement across the organization, not just an HR program/goal.
  • Improve communication – If surveys are used to measure engagement, announce the results to the workforce and what they can expect as an outcome.
  • Ensure that employees believe that their opinions count – Respect and trust are impactful motivators regardless of the situation.

Gregg Gordon, the Vice President of the Data Science Practice Group at Kronos Incorporated and author of the new book Your Last Differentiator: Human Capital was recently interviewed for an article in Forbes Magazine about trusting and respecting the talent found within an organization.  Gordon believes “Transparency means sharing with employees the strategy of an organization and the challenges it faces. They are the ones in the trenches and understand many aspects of the business and market.”

This particularly rings true in government.  Public service is often criticized for it’s lack of compassion when budget cuts impact vital programs.  Public servants are sometimes caught in the middle when they aren’t part of a decision, yet are face-to-face with the citizens who are the recipients of these programs.  These employees have built relationships with the public and should be considered to offer valuable advice.

As organizations continue to adopt engagement strategies, it’s important to focus on being in the employees shoes.  What would inspire you to stick around and give your employer the best you have to offer?

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