Kingsport Times-News: How do you define employee engagement?
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How do you define employee engagement?

Shelburne Ferguson Jr. • Apr 8, 2019 at 8:30 AM

There are a variety of definitions for employee engagement. I would recommend you do a Google search for yourself and review several definitions.

I the meantime, allow me to suggest a definition that employee engagement is the degree to which employees feel enthusiastic about their jobs and to the principles and values upon which the company they work for has been founded. Engaged employees are committed to the organization, and devote a focused effort into their work and in their relationships with fellow workers, their employers and their customers.

For true employee engagement to occur in a business, the practice of management listening to employees and, likewise, employees listening carefully to those in the organization must take place. It is not a debate. Rather it is a learning discussion. Employees begin to recognize that they are appreciated and begin to feel valued for what they are learning to be and to do.

Listening is at the core of engagement. Where engagement strongly exists, it tends to encourage everyone in the business to want to be seen and heard. It is a minimum requirement of leadership, yet often overlooked for the immense value it can bring. On top of listening simply being the right thing to do, we see employees who feel listened to, want to reciprocate; they want to do their best, because they feel valued and important.

Some businesses decide to use a name such as calling an employee a “partner” to make employees feel that they are more crucial to the effectiveness of the relationship. Perhaps you have noticed when as a customer you speak to a clerk who is called “Partner” instead. By calling lower level employees partners, the company is suggesting to the customers there is a shared responsibility for the customers. It is a subtle way for a business to encourage customers to appreciate the attention appearing to come from everyone so they focus on involving their partners in decisions and solutions, empowering them to create the best customer experience.

The businesses which seem to do best with their operation of employee engagement are the ones who have from the launch of their business been very intentional about devising the culture they want to operate under. Culture surfaces as a way that employees are to act and think when it comes to their engagement. They therefore value how people do their job. You can’t have someone being a high performer but not behaving appropriately. It won’t work well. The high performers in companies where engagement is high understand their impact on others and behave in a collaborative and respectful way with each other.

It is truly up to employers to do what is necessary to maintain and encourage employee engagement. In other words employers must do what is necessary to engage their employees. A business called “The Business Journals”: https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/human-resources/2017/08/10-strategies-to-keep-employees-engaged.html, recommends “10 strategies to keep employees engaged.” I certainly agree with Billy Arcement the contributing writer. Most experts in the field of employee engagement believe that the “Culture” of the business consists of the supporting elements of the performance of all the workers. Culture generally consists of values, mission, vision, beliefs, traditions of the business, the relationship of technology to the customers’ needs, the importance of data, company mission, positive attitudes, the effective use of creativity in solving productivity issues and a consistent focus on business competitors.

While consistent, courteous and relative communications among the entire staff, managers and rank and file employees are vital, there should be coaching by the managers so that employees feel and believe their future is being strengthened through constant learning opportunities. An essential skill is the ability to anticipate change and to prepare employees for the future. Management should also be concerned about the families of the employees. An occasional note to the family of a worker providing encouraging information helps maintain a closer relationship among the employees and their families.

A significant benefit from an excellent employee engagement with its company is that customer satisfaction tends to increase and turnover is reduced.

Mr. Ferguson is a Kingsport attorney. You can reach him at: 423/246-3132.

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