Are Workers Clueless? Gauging Employee Engagement

In January, Société Gén­érale uncovered illegal activity from one of its junior traders costing the company billions of dollars. A Workforce Management article “No Esprit de Corps Can Spell Trouble in Any Company,” by Jessica Marquez points to poor employee engagement as a possible reason no one addressed, for years, this company-threatening, and job-threatening, situation. How common is low employee engagement, and how can companies keep employees in the know?

Most workers can tell you what is going on in their companies, who does what, when, where and why. However, many others, at both large and small firms, do not know the interworkings of their own companies, and when suspicious activity arises, may not feel connected enough to the company to know what to do or to whom to turn.

Besides a feeling of disconnectedness, employees may feel 1) too intimidated to speak up, or 2) guilty for getting their co-workers in trouble. The latter may be more common in these situations. You spend 40 hours a week with your co-workers. Obviously and usually, some kind of friendly bonds can emerge. If you are unsure if their activity is really creating a problem, you may not feel it is your place to tell management, which may end up costing not only lots of money for the company but also your co-workers’ jobs.

One way to combat corporate disengagement is for management to make constant connections with their underlings. With all the new technological communication tools (see our Blogging: The Next Generation), management should be able to keep in contact, whether through e-mails, phone calls or texts. Also, employee reviews can be an excellent time to not only catch up with your workers, but also to keep them abreast of what is going on in the company. And employees, too, should ask about new company developments.

Results of a recent Mercer study found the following (From the Workforce Management article):

“…only 53 percent of employees in France said they would recommend their organizations to others as a good place to work. Forty-eight percent said they think senior managers do a good job of managing their workforce. And 35 percent said they believed the pay is good or better than pay offered by other organizations within their industries.”

If over half of a company’s employees think management is doing a poor job, there is a problem. Some HR representatives to whom we have talked send periodic surveys to their employees to get a sense of their attitude toward the company. This is a more direct way to get at the overall engagement of employees.

What other ways can employers gauge engagement? How can employees stay more connected?

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