Employee engagement has been a considered an important part of management for more than three decades, but the criticality of creating a workplace where employees feel they belong and are empowered and engaged is more pronounced than ever. The shift to remote and hybrid work has increased the need to address employee engagement.
As employees emerge from their COVID-19 cocoons to face the new virtual/hybrid/in-person workplace, they are redefining their careers and selecting those opportunities that will give them both financial and emotional satisfaction. There is an underlying sense of alienation that must be bridged. Research shows that 92 percent of business executives believe that engaged employees perform better, improving the success of their teams and the productivity and profitability of their organizations.
Engaged employees develop a stronger emotional connection to their job and company, and focus their role on working toward their organization’s goals.
Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement
Engagement and inclusion are intellectually and logically related. There is a growing expectation that all employees need to feel and be included. This will require programs that help employees develop empathy and self-determination. There is a strong relationship between employee engagement and their sense of power and control over their careers. Training that focuses on the importance and the use of power creates aha moments, which promotes engagement. Power is an important blind-spot for managers and leaders (See “Employee Engagement and Training About Power,” March/April 2019, Training). Any engagement program should include the organization’s Chief Diversity Officer and any Employee Resource Groups.
Training for Engagement
Training and development can foster employee engagement through programs that focus on career development and advancement and a sense of belonging, linking personal and organizational goals and commitments. Here are several steps Training and Development (T&D) can take to promote engagement:
- Build training programs that forge interpersonal relationships and focus on career success. In prior columns, I demonstrated the importance of one-to one relationships, such as mentoring, in this post-pandemic period (see “Engaging and Retaining Your Employees Through Mentoring,” November/December 2020, Training).
- Initiate training that defines and operationalizes an engagement culture. This would include a review of the benefits of engagement, a critical examination of the mission and core values of the organization; an exploration of behaviors that can build engagement in business units and teams across the organization; and the creation of Acton Plans that contain timelines, milestones, and demonstrations of accountability.
- Provide training that focuses on employees’ skill development, key performance indicators (KPIs), job satisfaction, and self-empowerment.
Taking Engagement Global
Engagement has different meanings and practices across cultures. The norms for engagement varies by country. It is vital that any global rollout of your engagement initiative be culturally sensitive. This will require allowing each country to offer and adapt their ideas regarding the meaning and practice of engagement in their country. Another option is to start with a global team that co-creates the engagement programs.
A combination of factors, including the pandemic and the increased availability and use of technologies that impact engagement, have created a perfect opportunity to initiate an engagement training process. If your company does not do this, your competitors may be more attractive to your workers.
If you have any questions about training for employee engagement, or examples of successful or unsuccessful initiatives, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.