What Are The Drivers Of Consistent Workforce Engagement?
Updated: Jul 26
This Article Is Authored By MSI Global Talent Solutions
Engaged workers are in high demand and possess innate energy to go beyond the requirements of their job.
Many leaders today strive to make their workforce ‘happy,’ believing that doing so ensures an engaged workforce. But worker ‘happiness’ is a short-term, relative, and constantly changing dimension that has a different meaning to every worker. Happiness is difficult to measure.
Workforce engagement is how a company defines the depth of investment its workforce is willing to make in their company, in relationship to the degree the company invests and places value in its workforce. The workforce must feel the strength of the company’s commitment to remain engaged and feel successful.
The term workforce includes employees and external participants as companies broaden their outreach of attracting and retaining top talent.
Drivers of Consistent Workforce Engagement
Engaged workforces are in high demand, making the current chasm in talent availability challenges. They are a special type of talent and are consistent with what keeps them loyal, regardless of the company for which they work. Here is what they look for:
Leaders who value people first and are committed to making the company a rewarding place to work.
The ability to trust senior leaders to lead the company to future success with reliability and integrity.
The company invests in its workforce and has the equipment needed to be successful.
They understand how they fit into the company’s future.
Their voice is heard, respected, and valued. Their opinions matter and contributions are noticed and viewed as meaningful.
Their strengths are highlighted and utilized effectively.
They have positive relationships with their managers and team members.
They can grow in various directions, empowered with meaningful work and the autonomy to get the job done.
Company communications are transparent and consistently delivered.
Engaged workers possess innate energy to go beyond the requirements of their job. They work harder, more efficiently, stay longer, and are motivators for all levels within the company. Engaged workers are not merely interested in their own success but the success of the company. When leaders and managers direct that energy and effort in the right direction, workforce engagement has a positive impact on business outcomes; from increasing profits, revenue, and client centricity, to building the company’s competitive resilience in the market.
Creating a Strategic Workforce Culture
Companies must create and sustain the right culture within which worker engagement can thrive.
Culture, mission, vision, and value goals should have its workforce’s engagement strategy embedded in them – for internal and external talent reasons.
Companies’ goals are aligned with their workforce goals. Goals will evolve over time as company direction and the market change, but its workforce goals remain a top priority in making strategic decisions.
Transparent knowledge of how a company defines success, at every level, builds trust. Workers need to know how the impact of their contributions makes the company successful. Workforce success drives positive company outcomes.
Global companies and companies looking to build resiliency by entering new markets must factor in nuances of workforce drivers, which differ by country (as well as by industry). Company strategies should accommodate these drivers globally and adapt nationally to account for specific workforce requirements to increase engagement.
The Critical Role of Managers
In truth, being a manager is a difficult and perilous balancing act. They manage leaders and workforce expectations. How well managers lead is integral to successful worker engagement. Managers need leadership to consistently communicate the company’s vision so they, in turn, can provide the right information to their workforces. Workforces are more engaged and trusting when managers and leaders are consistently engaged.
Managers are accountable for how the workforces feel about the workplace. They lead by example, requiring the right tools and right skills to best support their teams. Managers today require:
Soft Skills. Leadership capacity, creative problem solving and innovation, effective communication skills, time management, having a growth mindset, and social influence.
Transdisciplinary Skills. The ability to perform work that includes various teams from different disciplines to solve business problems.
Social Intelligence. The management of emotions and self-awareness to improve interactions, foster leadership, and enable the execution of unique intellectual tasks.
Cross Cultural Competency. The ability to ensure workers understand, communicate, and effectively interact across cultures.
Virtual Collaboration. Setting the framework and managing the methods of collaboration between virtual teams.
Design Mindset. Solution-focused and action-oriented, drawing on logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning to explore the possibilities of what could be, and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user.
Diversity & Adaptability. Having a diverse and inclusive team supports an adaptive culture where an engaged workforce can thrive.
Consider training programs such as leadership development, cross-cultural, design thinking, data analytics, and business development. Increasing a manager’s ability and flexibility to manage will strengthen employee engagement.
The Impact of Remote Workers and External Participants
A manager’s commitment to their remote workforce (work at home, hybrid, work from anywhere) and external participants (non-employees – gig, contingent, crowd, borrowed talent) is critical in a company’s workforce ecosystem. Aligning remote workers and external participants to the company’s culture and vision increases their visibility to the company and their ability to remain engaged.
Manager Communication Tools
Managers who consistently check in with their workforces have a better understanding of how their workforce feels and reacts to company communication and its status within the industry. One-on-one meetings, online pulse surveys, or group meetings keep managers in tune with their workforces. This communication networking allows the workforce to provide valuable input and transparent feedback. The result is the workforce and the company remain aligned and are prepared for the future.
The Role of HR
HR is accountable (in conjunction with leadership and managers) for leading the design, measurement, and evaluation of focused workplace policies and practices. The goal is to attract and retain the right workers with the right skills at the right time to support company growth and build resiliency.
Designing a Strategy for Workforce Engagement
Workforce engagement is declining, evidenced by the Great Resignation, the impact of remote working, the increase of gig work, and the significant leaps in technology enablement. Creating a strategy for workforce engagement is mandatory.
The following factors help in the design process:
Review workforce engagement levels. What HR programs and practices enhance engagement, and which keep workers from thriving? A review of a company’s HR practices and procedures will determine which deserve investment to ensure better talent choices and engagement outcomes.
Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of HR decisions. What may look like a smart choice to increase workforce engagement may end up causing pain. Design thinking can determine program strategy, meaning, and goals. This 5-stage process: Empathize – Define – Ideate – Prototype – Test (it is a circular process) culls out positive and negative factors prior to implementation.
Think like a CFO. Being able to measure how well your HR investments lead to measurable business outcomes helps HR invest smarter, resulting in increased productivity and positive business outcomes. Identify organizational strengths, weaknesses, key risk factors and opportunities to drive workforce engagement.
Use business analytics for HR. Measuring workforce engagement is critical in driving business goals. Focus on profitability, quality, client satisfaction and loyalty, workforce allegiance, and productivity as starting points. Strong and measurable data determines where, how, and why to invest in your workforce. Include progress monitorization, adjusting strategies, and plans when needed.
Metrics. Surveys measure a workforce’s commitment, motivation, purpose, and passion for work and the company. They obtain information on the levels of workforce engagement and analyze the relationships between workforce engagement and key business outcomes to show which workforce initiatives are achieving desired goals.
Communicate with transparency. Communication platforms include leadership communications, companywide statements, and day-to-day interactions. Transparency keeps a workforce engaged.
It is an opportunity to receive ongoing feedback and understand evolving needs. Opportunities include recruitment and onboarding, performance reviews, pulse surveys, training, coaching, mentoring, career discussions, and recognition programs. Communication vehicles include:
Regular meetings. Group, one-on-one, leadership, and town hall meetings.
Discussion. Essential to an engaged workforce, as it allows relationships with leaders, managers, their individual teams as well as cross-functional and external participants.
Technology opportunities. Teleconferencing, listening platforms, mobile apps, blogs, and newsletters.
Workforce engagement surveys. Using pulse or more formal vehicles, engagement surveys produce data for analysis in aggregate and broken into business sectors to help guide workforce changes to positively affect engagement. From here, a company sets goals and objectives to secure workforce engagement.
Learning and development. Engaged workers are innately curious; learning is part of their DNA. They must feel equipped and empowered. They need broad opportunities to build cross-functional skills to prepare for the future.
Providing the right tools. Workforces engage more when given autonomy. The right tools will increase efficiency and performance. Use self-service analytics tools or CRM to provide insight into client expectations and external market trends.
Recognition. Acknowledging a job well done goes a long way in keeping workers engaged. How to recognize them will depend on their role, location, and the work done.
The Future of Work
Workforce engagement is a critical driver of business success in today's competitive marketplace. The higher the engagement level, the greater retention of both internal and external talent. The stronger the commitment a company makes to its workforce the greater its engagement outcome. This positively impacts and improves organizational performance, leading to increased customer loyalty, productivity, employee satisfaction, and company resiliency. It’s a win-win.
MSI’s Consulting and Advisory Team can support the design and development of a workforce engagement strategy aligned with your company's values and business goals. Our focus is on helping organizations optimize and develop long-range strategies for success.
For more information, please contact MSI – at firstname.lastname@example.org