5 Steps for Improving your Employee Engagement in 2017

Don Harkey of People Centric Consulting Group knows how to engage employees.

By Don Harkey

Feb 13 2017 at 8:52 a.m.


As you look back on 2016, think about your successes and specifically about the people who were involved in those successes. Go ahead and name names. Write them down. Now look at the people on your list. These are most likely highly engaged people in your organization. Engaged employees are much more likely to do some of the best work for your organization. The problem is that often, not everyone is fully engaged. In fact, Gallup says that on average, 68 percent of your staff is not fully engaged and might even be outright toxic. This means that it is likely that 68 percent of your employees are not giving you their best work. This also means that engagement impacts your bottom line. Gallup research finds that organizations with high employee engagement enjoy 22 percent higher profitability versus organizations in the bottom quartile of engagement.

The good news is that you can increase the employee engagement in your organization. Here are five steps you can take to increase your engagement in 2017. If you can commit to all five steps, you will see significant results!


1. Assess your Organization — Most business decision-makers have some feel for what they need to do in their business moving forward, but they don't do a great job of engaging their employees on the direction. Conducting a survey of your employees will do valuable things for you. It will give you some insights into what is happening in your business. More importantly, it will gain buy-in from your employees who will feel like they played a role in the direction moving forward. Bringing in an outside expert to conduct the survey will improve the openness of the responses and give an opportunity for additional outside insight. Of course, to increase employee engagement, you will need to do more than just assess. You will need to show your employees that you hear them and that their input impacts the organization.


2. Focus Your Team — Once you have collected input, pull your leadership team together to create the top Key Objectives for 2017. This is often referred to as Strategic Planning, but I want to de-emphasize the plan and emphasize the planning. It's not important to create a thick document. It is important to create focus for your team by engaging your team. Once the Key Objectives are created, roll them out to each department and team in your organization and let them set quarterly goals that support these objectives. 


3. Create a Place for Progress — Establish a cadence of accountability meetings to track the progress toward your Key Objectives and quarterly goals. We recommend monthly reviews of key objectives and goals for each team to examine how they’re making progress and what needs to happen next. This keeps the plan and focus in front of everyone at each level of your organization. 


4. Take a Few STEPs at a Time — It is imperative to understand that the progress should come from your team, not just from your managers. This can be accomplished one “STEP” at a time. A STEP is an acronym we use meaning “Strategic Team Engagement Project.” A STEP is a project that has a well-defined scope and involves key stakeholders. It is an opportunity to change something in your organization. Although you have undoubtedly identified numerous potential STEPs in your organization, recognize that you should only launch them at a rate at which you can make meaningful progress. Assign a champion to each STEP whose job is not to execute the project, but rather to facilitate it and make sure it gets done. The engagement opportunity here is not to do things for your employees, but to empower them to do things for themselves. 


5. Train your Managers — The largest single barrier to employee engagement is ineffective management. Gallup estimates that 70 percent of the total variance in employee engagement can be accounted for by the effectiveness of the team’s manager. Many managers inadvertently discourage their employees from engaging because they lack the knowledge and skills to delegate, hold people accountable, set clear direction and give constructive feedback. This is not surprising given that most supervisors become supervisors simply because they were good at their previous job, which had very little to do with the job of managing people. The solution is to develop your managers. Train them how to lead and motivate. Train them how to have difficult conversations and how to deal with toxic employees (hint: quickly, clearly and decisively).


So, where do you start?

You can do all of this on your own, but it will take you a lot of time and resources. There are great books out there that can help you with parts of these processes. If you'd like to consider bringing in an outside expert, our team at People Centric would be happy to talk with you. One of our experts can meet with you to discuss the specific needs of your company and will work with you to create customized steps for you to increase employee engagement. If you'd like to set up a call to learn more, please email me directly at donharkey@peopleccg.com.

Don't hope for a great year in 2017. Take steps to ensure it by engaging your team.