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What HR Pros Think About Employee Engagement

Employee engagement and workforce alignment continue to be hot topics, and our webinar on April 26, 2011 with New York Times bestselling author Kevin Kruse confirms that. The webinar, titled "Re-engage! How Great Leaders Create Massive Workforce Commitment & Alignment," was one of i4cp's highest rated online sessions ever and sparked a lively discussion among attendees.

Below is a selection of comments and questions raised by attendees - most of which were answered or discussed during the webinar. Read the comments, watch the webinar and provide your own feedback and insights to this post in the comments section below.

  • Although sometimes my boss gives me the information [I need], I've learned that she is not the best communicator. So I try to ask her for it and have conversations on a regular basis - just talking about things. In a sense I am managing my boss, and trying to make her a better communicator.
  • Can we see causality between engagement and profitability? In other words, did engagement happen first and profitability followed? Or do successful companies have more engaged employees?
  • Could it be a chicken and egg situation, though? Do companies with great results have highly engaged employees? Or do highly engaged [employee] results drive [productivity] results? Couldn't it go either way?
  • If you do it well, the annual review is a once-a-year, point-in-time discussion. But we should be having ongoing, honest conversations with people throughout the year about performance and development.
  • It's sustaining engagement that is hard. THAT'S the differentiator.
  • Engagement is a means of solving business problems and fueling growth. It's not an outcome unto itself.
  • We administer our engagement survey quarterly in-house and share the results in local discussions each quarter as a means of fostering engagement.
  • For what it's worth, we've got hard research that shows that the level at which an employee is connected to their job - pay/benefits, people/work, or truly making a difference - is directly related to their level of job satisfaction, engagement and resilience.
  • How do we get leaders to put more focus on giving our managers what they need to be good at their jobs? Time, attention, priorities and ongoing reinforcement is not there.
  • How do we share the idea that the recession is over and that it's time to reengage when companies continue to downsize and layoffs are still occurring?
  • How expensive is it to create/augment employee engagement? Is there a correlation between employee engagement and CEO succession planning that favors internal promotions?
  • Does a company need an external vendor to help with building employee engagement? Also, how important is it for a company to start their employee engagement enhancement "initiative" with an assessment of employee engagement?
  • Is there a distinction between job and company engagement or are they one and the same?
  • We in the workplace wellness field have long recognized the importance of the role of organizational culture in how successful an individual is in their attempts to make successful, healthy lifestyle changes.
  • What is the best thing to do for an organization with highly engaged employees, but where morale is still low?
  • This session makes great sense and was beautifully presented. Are you finding that companies are following this advice now? Are you seeing any new direction?
  • For leaders who don't "buy into" engagement, how do you get them to start experimenting with the concepts?
  • Speaking of acquisitions, what can be done to engage acquired employees from the beginning - is it training existing managers, training new managers, addressing employees directly or something else?
  • Of the companies that report that their employees are engaged, how many of them practice open book management? When employee engagement is seen as just as important as the penny increase in the stock price by shareholders, then management will get it.
  • What are the factors inside companies that lead to greater engagement? Job tasks, group tasks, extracurricular tasks, etc.
  • Our company is in business transformation mode and this session is helping me to focus on some key messages we need to emphasize as part of our strategies.
  • Aren't you possibly comparing apples vs. oranges by almost equating work happiness with engagement? I can envision a highly engaged workaholic who has great stress at home because of over-engagement at work. Doesn't most of the research define "engagement" with the critical element of how willing an employee is to give "discretionary effort" (i.e., non-reimbursed)? I've seen this element consistently in the research.
  • WD-40 - we've been benchmarking them. They have a 90+% engagement rate and business has tripled. Their CEO Garry Ridge wrote a book with Ken Blanchard.
  • We currently take a three-pronged approach to engagement to take the greatest burden off the shoulders of management: (1) we determine what can the organization do (efforts by senior management); (2) we determine what can management do (regarding what we're talking about today); and (3) we challenged our team members to take an active role in their own engagement. Is this approach common and effective or should we just focus on management?
  • What you are discussing is organizational climate and I have found that organizational culture provides a lasting change. I think that once the economy changes, you will see a mass exit of people who are fed up with their company.
  • Has your research shown that the recession created more controls and restriction?
  • You need to empower the people. You don't need to manage people; you manage the process and remove barriers.
  • Will you be discussing the signs of disengagement? I feel that there are levels of disengagement before a total "engagement shutdown."
  • You hit upon some points that I have never thought of in my many years of training. Great information. Thanks!

We'd love to hear what you think! Tell us below.

Kevin Kruse is the co-author of We: How to Increase Performance and Profits Through Full Engagement. More information Kevin and his book can be found at kevinkruse.com.

Erik Samdahl
Erik is the head of marketing at i4cp, and has nearly 20 years in the market research and human capital research industry.