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How to Crack the Code on Employee Engagement

Feb 29, 2016

For as long as I can remember, employee engagement in the U.S. has hovered right around 30%, as measured by the Gallup organization. Conventional wisdom holds that engaged employees are productive, profitable, value-adding employees.

And roughly 50% of the workforce has been disengaged, with the remainder “actively disengaged”--that is downright sabotaging their company with their negative, value-diluting behavior.

Pretty dismal, don’t you think?

Most established companies use some type survey to measure engagement, and then the HR department spends lots of time slicing and dicing the data by business unit, employee level, function, and so on.

Yet, for years the numbers haven’t changed, despite all that analysis. In my experience, engagement does not come down to a complicated plan that ultimately employs one-size-fits-all tactics.

What is meaningful for one employee may not work for another, and applying a “peanut butter” approach is a waste of time and effort.  Rather, engagement comes down to specific, customized strategies and tactics and one-on-one interaction from a strong, well-informed manager.

Until now, most managers lack the time or tools to do this. With new advances in neuroscience in the workplace, that can finally change.

As mentioned in my recent post about neuroscience and a workplace tool called NeuroColor, we now have insights into things like the characteristics of each individual employee’s optimal workplace, what they are engaged and motivated by, how they approach their work, and how they react to change and respond to conflict.

We can also use neuroscience to identify their possible workplace stressors, how they act under stress, and most importantly, strategies to reduce their stress so they can get back to working comfortably and productively again.

Yet having this knowledge and acting on it are two different things.

Improving engagement requires the leadership of managers to act on this knowledge by customizing their approach to bringing out the best in their individual team members.

Just as customization in consumer products is becoming mainstream, I believe that the best employers will take career customization in their leadership just as seriously.

And for those who think this sounds too difficult or time-consuming, just think of the upside of having more than one-third of your employees engaged.

An informed, personal approach to people leadership holds powerful and profitable benefits.


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