From Leader to Leader: ERC President Kelly Keefe Talks Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is a hot topic for Northeast Ohio employers in today’s hyper-competitive labor market. In fact, 79 percent of respondents to ERC’s HR Priorities survey ranked Engagement and Culture as their top HR priority over the next 1 to 3 years.
While these organizations have good intentions, they may need to do more to see tangible results. For instance, in the same survey, respondents said only 16 percent of their HR department’s time is focused on Engagement and Culture. And in another ERC survey, only 18% of respondents reported having a staff member dedicated to Engagement and Culture.
Why Engagement & Culture Matter
Engagement matters because it reflects whether employees are willing to go “above and beyond” their job descriptions to get the job done. It measures whether workers plan to stay at their employers and whether they would recommend their organization to a friend as a great place to work. Essentially, it assesses employees’ commitment to their jobs and organizations.
Culture is more amorphous and may be described as “how we do things around here.” Employees are always observing how an organization spends its money, handles customers and vendors, treats employees, communicates, promotes, trains, maintains workplaces, and more. Culture is seen through the employee experience. It’s the cumulative impact of how each employee views the organization through their own lens of experiences and expectations.
Culture drives employee engagement and that directly impacts customer loyalty and profitability.
Use Data to Drive Engagement Strategies
Prioritizing engagement and culture is essential to your organization’s long-term viability. You can start by researching your current situation. Measure strengths and areas for improvement by methodically surveying your employees. Then, you can move forward with well-thought-out change initiatives.
I urge you to resist following your gut instincts. Skipping professional research could waste your time and money. Data matters.
Employers looking to develop their culture and engagement use tools to help them understand their current status. Specialized engagement survey tools, like the tool ERC uses for the NorthCoast 99 Awards Program, can help leaders make decisions based on statistical feedback from their employees. This can be done in one long survey conducted annually or more regularly with fewer targeted questions throughout the year. Some organizations hold listening sessions with small groups of employees and/or qualitative focus groups.
When employees feel valued and optimistic about their future with an organization, they perform at their best and organizations prosper.
Kelly Keefe, SHRM-SCP