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Employee Engagement


A few months ago, you may have read Cindy Masingill’s post summarizing the book “First, Break All the Rules.” If you have not, please follow this link to enjoy that post (after you finish reading this one of course!)

In Cindy’s summary, the 12 questions – fondly referred to as the Q12 – are the essential employee engagement questions to be answered for any organization. The source of the work is undeniably credible and valid, coming from decades of Gallup surveys and statistical analysis of thousands of organizations in hundreds of industries. Interestingly, the authors of the book suggest there is actually risk in trying to implement the improvements required to score perfect “5’s” for each of the 12 questions; while I am not about to challenge their work or suggestions, I believe there is great risk in neglecting to start paying attention to what the 12 questions have in common: The relationship the employee has with the organization.

Fundamentally, Gallup’s discovery is that the relationship the employee has with the organization is more about the relationship with the leadership of the organization than any other part of the organization. While a “cool” and contemporary work environment with supportive tools and resources is just as important as having strong team development and social support in the workplace, the nature of the relationship with leadership turns out to be more critical than anything else. Organizations that enjoy the rare 80 percent (or higher) highly engaged workforce are also enjoying the lowest turnover and the highest profitability and productivity in their industry, all due to the leadership of people and how the leaders relate to the people of the organization.

Supportive, understanding, personal-growth-oriented, caring leaders who are actively investing in their relationships with employees reap higher levels of employee engagement than any other type of leader. They know how to treat employees as individuals, which is one of the most important elements of leadership – and one that many leaders suggest would not be supported by an HR department due to the need for equal treatment in today’s workplaces.

As HR professionals, we must embrace a new age where binary thinking of “compliant and non-compliant” no longer serves the organizations and employees we work with. Of course, we must comply with regulations, many of which serve for a greater good, but progressive HR professionals understand the value of equitable treatment and how to balance it with treating employees as individuals. Artfully crafted policies and practices and cultivated cultures that celebrate, support and encourage the individual – while ensuring equitable treatment and opportunity – are at the heart of HR excellence in today’s organizations.

What is your HR department doing to support your organization’s leaders in cultivating the most engaged workforce possible? What is your HR department doing to learn and grow itself? Is it adding new approaches and techniques to enhance and develop the services provided in the organization, and ultimately drive the results of your business through excellent HR practices?

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