Ideally, every employee would be highly engaged at work, but that isn't the case. You, as an HR professional, don't have infinite resources to address the situation. So dealing with employee engagement requires a triage of sorts, not unlike (but thankfully not quite as serious) as the kind of triage military medics practice. Some employees will be engaged whether you act or not. Some will not be engaged no matter what you do. The third group, those whose engagement can increase by your actions, is where you must focus your attentions.
Here is a terrifying fact: “According to Gallup, a whopping 87% of the world’s employees are not engaged at work. Interestingly, the research shows that most employees who have been at a company for 10 years or more (the time it typically takes to become a top performer) are usually the least engaged.”
Engagement is a function of communication, and communication is a multi-dimensional, two-way affair. Tools like video communication can help, but in the end it’s up to you and how engaging you are with your employees. Engage with them and they’ll engage with you.
Engagement is not the employees' responsibility. It's yours. You have to communicate, communicate frequently, and you have to do it in ways that make it easy for the employee to absorb your message. Moreover, you have to create mechanisms that allow the employee to respond. It's time-consuming, and you need to pay attention to detail, but it isn't actually hard to do.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
First off, you need to keep it simple. Simple words are the best. Not everyone has a vast vocabulary, but there is also a lot of jargon in business that may not be well-understood outside of the department in which it's used. That means the message needs to be simple and direct as well.
Second, people respond to different media differently. Some people hate to read. Others dislike group meetings. If you are to reach everyone, you will need to use different media. Emails, group meetings, one-on-one discussions, video communications, teleconferences, posters in the break room – it all matters.
VIDEO WORKS BEST
That said, statistics show that video is more effective for more people than any other approach.
- Time spent per day watching video by adults in the U.S. grew by more than five times, from an average of 39 seconds per day in 2011, to an average of one minute, 55 seconds in 2015, and usage is still trending upwards.
- Almost 50 percent of our brains are involved in visual processing.
- People following directions with illustrations do 323 percent better than those following text directions alone.
- People only remember 10 percent of what they hear after three days, but if a relevant image is paired with that same information, retention goes up to 65 PERCENT!
Third, the employee needs to be able to communicate with you. You can rely on the standard methods like surveys, “open-door” policies, and so on. However, if YouTube and Facebook have taught us nothing else, the ability to post comments is almost irresistible. You can set it up so everyone can see comments, or just a few people in HR or a department head only.
LISTEN TO RESPONSES
Finally, the conversation is never finished. Those comments, survey results, whatever, should spark the next exchange. That is the other part of holding a conversation, responding appropriately to what you have been told. If the employees can say, “no one is listening” when they say something, engagement is out of the question.