Employee engagement in the U.S. has remained stagnant in recent years. According to a 2015 Gallup study, only 32 percent of U.S. workers were considered “engaged” in their jobs. More than 50 percent of employees were "not engaged," while another 17 percent were "actively disengaged."
At GL group, we consider an employee to be engaged when they are actively involved in their work as it relates to other teams and the overall organization. Someone who comes in and sits in a cubical from 9-5 isn’t a highly engaged employee for us. They may be productive and accomplish the work sitting in front of them, but we view this as a fence sitter. They are not engaged in making the company as a whole greater. Those who are highly engaged are leading projects outside of their day-to-day responsibilities, working with cross-functional teams on solutions to shared issues, involved on various committees throughout the company, and are vocal about what isn’t working. Most importantly, they’re not afraid to be even more vocal about solutions to address the issue.
We have found that our employees are engaged and happy with their work because of the culture we’ve created. Our culture has been and continues to be at the heart of what makes us successful. We believe passionately in the people we work with and expect a high level of engagement from those within our walls.
We believe in an open and engaged culture so much that we created The Engaged Culture Glossary (ECG). This glossary serves as a reference point to some of the key culture phrases and terminology that make GL group unique. It also helps remind us of the importance and value in speaking the same common language when it comes to our culture. The ECG (yes, we even give it an acronym) is a guide to help define our success and aims to foster an environment of passionate, productive, and engaged employees.
Listening is key to creating an open and engaged culture. We have found that when employees do not feel heard, they are not willing to share their frustration points with those who can make a difference. This leads to no effective changes being made and increased frustration. We have implemented a number of programs within our culture to help foster an environment of intentional listening.
Each month our CEO invites 15-20 employees to lunch and asks them to bring 2-3 questions they would like answers to. He listens to their concerns, shares his thoughts, and most importantly, follows up to ensure action. Sometimes that action is simply letting the person know that we cannot do anything – what’s important is that he explains the why behind that decision.
Each month I also invite 4-5 employees to breakfast (The Breakfast Club) and we discuss areas within their teams that are causing the most concern. Again, we listen to what is being said and develop action plans from there. By following up, we show the employees that we heard what they had to say and as a result, we made a change or communicated differently.
In addition, we have monthly company meetings where different teams present topics important for their division. We send employee engagement surveys every quarter to get the pulse of each team's level of engagement. Leaders have monthly statuses with each member of the team to learn what is working and what isn't and, again, listen.
Without intentional listening there cannot be active engagement. Employees want to know their opinion matters and as a business leader, you need their opinion to move the business forward. After all, they are the ones doing the work, day in and day out. THEY have all the ideas.
WRITER: Lisa Whealon