Fostering an Engaged Workforce

It’s no secret that employees are the ones doing the work and keeping an organization running. Without employees, a business cannot maintain operations and profits and will therefore go under. So why is it that more businesses are not focusing substantial energy on engaging their workforce?

With effective human resource strategies, employees will be engaged and satisfied, driving business results and becoming goodwill ambassadors for the company. When employees are happy and can see a connection between their daily responsibilities and the company’s goals, they are more engaged in its success and will be more likely to remain with the company.

So what can a business owner and top management do to foster an engaged workforce?

As most notably discussed by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in First Break All the Rules: What the Greatest Managers Do Differently, 1999, there are four factors that contribute to an engaged workforce:

  1. Identify the best fit for employees

More often than not, human resource staffing strategies discontinue after orientation. Many think that once an employee is hired to fill a vacant position, the task is completed. However, this type of attitude is what oftentimes contributes to employee dissatisfaction and turnover.

You see, some organizations have the tendency to stick an employee in a position simply because he or she possesses the minimum required qualifications to complete the tasks involved. This; however, does not encourage employee satisfaction. An employee will be truly engaged and productive when they see value in the work they perform – and enjoy it! So the best option is to continually communicate with the employee (even after orientation) to ensure they are utilizing their skills in a way that is most beneficial to both the company and the employee.

  1. Concentrate on individual employee strengths

Every employee is different. Even employees in similar positions have unique capabilities. For example, two employees in the billing department share strong organizational and mathematical skills; Employee A is especially good at balancing and reconciling accounts, while Employee B is good at forecasting trends.  Instead of sharing all responsibilities within the department, it would be more beneficial to make Employee A responsible for managing account payables/receivables, while Employee B creates and manages the budget. Not only will this setup keep each of the employees happy by allowing them to do what they do best, it will also ensure that the most capable person is performing each task.

  1. Clearly establish desired results

When employees are not given clear instructions and desired outcomes, it is easy for them to become frustrated. If clearly defined results are communicated, employees will feel more organized and empowered to achieve said result. Then once the desired result is achieved, employees will feel a connection between the work they performed and the actual outcome.

Uncertainty has the opposite effect. If an employee is performing work without knowing if their manager is satisfied with the outcome or not (or how their work contributes to the overall objective), he or she can feel disconnected and unsure if his/her work has any value. When such situations occur, it is common for the employee to seek alternate opportunities.

  1. Select employees based on knowledge, skills, and abilities

It happens more than you think: candidates who are not capable of doing a job are hired to fill a position. They may be selected because of personality, a positive attitude, or simply because the interviewer liked them.  When the employee is not able to perform the tasks required of the position, the business suffers in a multitude of ways. Incompetent employees cause others to have to work harder to achieve goals, thus resulting in decreased morale. These employees also require additional training and coaching, resulting in decreased productivity and output and increased use of valuable resources that should be utilized elsewhere. Ultimately, the employee will likely either quit or be terminated, causing the company substantial cost and lost time.

By hiring the right person for the job based on knowledge, skills, and abilities, an organization can avoid unnecessary burdens and save money. This also benefits the employee because he or she will be placed in a position to which they will excel and feel comfortable in. Recruiting, developing, and retaining the best talent is crucial to the organization’s validity and strength. Selecting the wrong talent can be costly and detrimental to the business.

When businesses realize that their true value comes from human capital and begin actively working to engage their workforce, they will see increased productivity, higher retention, and a truly engaged workforce!



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