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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Is anybody listening?

It was refreshing to learn from a recent poll that so many employees want to make a difference. Fifty-seven percent said they make at least 20 suggestions a year. That’s a lot more than we anticipated, especially given reports of low employee engagement. Which leads us to ask, are organizations listening? Our research tells us that three top drivers of engagement include “my opinions count”, “senior leaders value employees” and “everyone is treated with respect”. If engagement levels are so low (our own research tells us that only 34% of employees are engaged), organizations may be missing an opportunity to engage workers and harness the creativity and innovation employees are anxious to offer.

But this is just one element of engagement. What wasn’t asked in our poll was what kind of suggestions were being offered. Far too many times, employees offer suggestions that are outside their scope of responsibility. Two additional top engagement drivers include “I understand how I can contribute to meeting the needs of our customers” and “I am encouraged to take ownership of my work”. Leaders would do well to direct employees to focus on their individual roles and processes where they can take ownership and accountability. As a result, their contribution to the organization is at a higher level and has a meaningful impact on the success of the business.

Bottom line: Build a culture of trust by showing you value contributions and that everyone’s opinions count. Demonstrate your trust in employees by giving them an opportunity to share and act on suggestions.

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