Employee Engagement Distribution
In most of the organizations (except early startup), this is how a typical Employee Engagement distribution curve looks like:
I broadly classify engagement status of the employee into following five categories, which will help you to come up with the different strategy to take care of each one of them:
- Actively Engaged: they are your brand ambassador, continuously thinking about the company’s go-forward direction
- Moderately Engaged: they are willing to get deeply involved. They need more assurance and a bit more clarity.
- Not Engaged: they are trying to be a good professional and they have their own boundaries in which they are operating. While they may not be hurting the company, they will not be forgiving either.
- Disengaged: They have stopped seeing a lot of value in the current team/organization. Few more negative experiences and you may find them to be actively disengaged.
- Actively Disengaged: they are your detractors/deprecators. They are consciously damaging the organization.
Well, just knowing the various categories will not be enough. You need to move the lines towards the right – gradually and with a concrete plan.
While people will still leave and you can still hire a great talent, the continuous focus on moving these lines towards the right will ensure that you will work with more motivated people.
How do I Improve Engagement?
While there are no defined rules and standard guidelines, there are few things which every employee would expect. As a leader, you do need to ensure that
- the team believes in change
- there is fairness in the system and people do see that fairness
- there is a reward for the continuous improvement and people are not reprimanded for the failure
- basic hygiene factor for a given job has been taken care
- managers are genuinely concerned about their direct reports’ well-being
Once these basic stuffs are in place, I recommended following steps in one of the previous article, Steps for Improving Employee Engagement:
Specific Action at different stages of Engagement
At any stage of employee engagement, you cannot leave things to the fate and hope that engagement will improve. While it is true that different people may have different needs and can pose different engagement challenges, still the classification listed above gives us the broader idea about common things that we can do for these specific groups.
Actively Engaged Employee
An actively engaged employee is already working with passion, feels a deep connection with the organization and takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests. The biggest challenge is to guide them and take them to the next level. However, if you don’t do that consciously, then they will feel ignored and eventually they will start checking out.
You may like to refer to following resources for more help
- Giving a High Performer Productive Feedback
- How to mentor a perfectionist
- Identify and retain your best talent
Moderately Engaged Employee
A moderately engaged employee is already enjoying the company culture. However, there are few things which are still holding them back.
The key things that you can think of doing are
- Ensure that there is openness in your system
- Assure them that they belong to this place and it is okay to make mistakes
- Clarify them on their mapping of personal ambition with company purpose and
- Trust them on their face value
Not Engaged Employee
This group is just going through the momentum and they are not putting their energy or passion into their work. A significant number of people fall into this category. Try following with them
Try following with them
- Explain them about the company’s purpose
- Understand their personal ambition
- Help them map their ambition with company’s purpose
- Encourage them to start making small contributions
- Many times people want to do something more than what they are doing, however, they don’t know how to get started. Provide them the required support and encouragement during this initial take-off period.
They are non-committal and they will find a reason for not taking certain responsibility and delaying things. This happens when they see a consistent lack of fairness in the system or the team. Most often the cause could be his/her relationship with the immediate supervisor.
Try doing the following:
- Be open
- Be a good listener and ensure that the disengaged employee felt understood
- Genuinely address the immediate concern and assure the employee with the long-term action to remove the root cause of the concern
- Follow the steps that you would follow for the “Not Engaged” employee
If needed, be direct, say what is right and do what is needed; otherwise, you may become unfair with people who are doing good.
Actively Disengaged Employee
Actively-Disengaged Employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they are busy acting out their unhappiness. They will not just hurt the quality of the delivery, but they will leave distaste with your customer. They will most likely undo the good work of the actively engaged folks, who might be working hard to take the organization forward. And, they may demand significant time from management/leaders, which should have actually been spent with the customer and in taking the business forward
Openness helps here as well. You need to do following:
- Tell the disengaged employee that you are aware of his/her activities and it is not acceptable irrespective of whatever be the root cause
- Understand the root cause and seek the action plan from the employee to show immediate improvement
- Watch the improvement and take corrective action as needed
- And, if nothing works, then let the employee go. Sometimes separation is good for the company as well as the employee.
As I said, there is no single method and approach for fixing the engagement issues. However, I have tried to share my views on how one can improve employee engagement by classifying the employees into different groups based on their engagement level. I strongly believe that by breaking the problem in smaller pieces, you increase the likelihood of the problem getting resolved.
I am sure you will have your own approach and I would love to see that being shared.