Employee engagement isn’t just about who’s a “good worker” and who isn’t — it’s about building successful teams.
Last week, I discussed why regular feedback is critical to being a successful comm center. Feedback conversations are an opportunity for employees to gain insight for course correction. They’re also a good way to build rapport and trust.
These alone are great reasons to make regular feedback a consistent part of your center’s culture. But feedback is also the key to the one element that sets average centers apart from the high performing: employee engagement.
“Employee engagement” might sound like another phrase for “employee happiness” or “employee satisfaction.” But the truth is that these terms share little in common. Employee happiness and satisfaction only measure contentment. Engagement measures employees’ level of motivation, involvement and commitment — three important factors that determine how successful that employee (and in turn, your center overall) will be.
Employees who are engaged in their job are different from those who simply show up for their shifts and clock out. Engaged employees are emotionally committed to the success of the organization and its goals. That means when they come to work and do a great job — not just because they’re being paid to, but because they believe in the work they’re doing and the organization they’re working for.
HOW ENGAGED ARE YOUR PEOPLE?
We can categorize this level of emotional commitment in five ways. Employees at your center fall into one of the following levels:
- Actively engaged. This is 5-15 percent of your staff. Your actively engaged employees jump to mind as sources of innovation, productivity and fun. These high performers feel such passion for and connection with what they do that they seem to draw from a deeper well of emotional and physiological resources than their less engaged coworkers. These “A” players also motivate their coworkers to become more engaged themselves.
- Engaged. Just below active engagement, another 20-25 percent of staff sit here. Their engagement means they’re successful in their jobs and deliver an honest day’s work every shift. These are generally hard workers with positive outlooks who believe in the center’s mission and vision.
- Almost engaged. This 5-10 percent has the potential to join the next level, but they struggle to match the vision they have for their careers with the center’s vision, and are not emotionally committed to their organization. These employees are on the fence: They are willing to do more, but also willing to leave if something better comes along.
- Somewhat disengaged. Roughly half the staff is here. They are clock-punchers who generally do adequate work, but are not functioning anywhere near their full potential. For any number of reasons, they are distracted for 2-3 hours each day, disrupting the workflow and their coworkers’ concentration.
- Actively disengaged. The final 5-15 percent of the workforce has checked out completely. They’re there for the paycheck. These are people who actively doubt the center mission and vision, speak poorly of the organization and its leaders, and do just enough to avoid being fired. These employees often act out and are the most resistant to change.
THE POWER OF EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
Employee engagement isn’t just about who’s a “good worker” and who isn’t — it’s integral to determining how successful an organization is.
For example, according to Gallup statistics, employees who are engaged are 30% more likely not to miss any workdays because of poor health in any given month. They also miss 70% fewer workdays because of poor health over the course of a year. Disengaged workers, on the other hand, had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors.
Engaged employees also demonstrate more commitment to and success at their jobs. These employees are 27% more likely to report “excellent” performance by the organization, 45% more likely to report high levels of adaptability in the presence of change, and 56% less likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months.
Overall, engaged employees are the people I’ve been talking about all along — the key players who will be best able to support your center’s transformation into a People Driven Center. These employees perform better, stick around longer and more readily embrace change.
HOW TO ENGAGE YOUR EMPLOYEES
If you’re struggling to name any actively engaged employees currently at your center, don’t worry — you can start promoting a culture of engagement right away. Besides feedback, there are several other ways to engage your employees today:
- Create ways to link employees’ roles and tasks to the center’s larger mission and purpose.
- Develop and maintain clear expectations about employees’ tasks, roles, and decision-making authority.
- Create transparently fair processes to reward employees and encourage outstanding efforts.
- Involve employees appropriately in diagnosing and solving problems, making decisions, and implementing ideas.
- Create and support small groups and teams to take on important assignments.
- Invest in selecting, training, evaluating, and rewarding highly competent supervisors and leaders.
As you’re brainstorming, don’t overlook the most important resource you have: your team. In which level of engagement would they categorize themselves? When during their shift do they feel most engaged? What would they say you could do to improve employee engagement? How can they be a part of this process? Being an engaged employee isn’t some innate trait reserved for only the select few. Every employee has the potential to become passionate, committed and motivated members of your team.
Thanks for reading this article, containing excerpts of my upcoming book, “People Driven Leadership: How the Best 9-1-1 Centers Inspire Positive Change.”
This is the 17th article of 20. Stay tuned for the next!
“People Driven Leadership: How the Best 9-1-1 Centers Inspire Positive Change” will be available on April 13, 2020, the beginning of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. For more details, click here.