8 Key Drivers of Employee Engagement

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William R. Johnson, MBA, CRA

Managers, be advised: Work to increase satisfaction rather than engagement among employees at your peril. Why? You could end up retaining a disengaged employee who is quite satisfied with their position and happy to stick around to poison your culture by influencing the 52% of your workforce that is neither engaged nor disengaged. That was the advice of William R. Johnson, MBA, CRA, director of diagnostic services, Summa Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital, Wadsworth, Ohio, who spoke on Interviewing, Recruitment, and Retention during the Leadership Institute Basic Management Skills program on Wednesday morning. Johnson says that engaged employees take fewer sick days, have higher job satisfaction, are more satisfied with their personal life, and help attract top talent. Companies with engaged workforces across all industries earn 13% greater returns over the past five years.

“Engagement, in contrast to job satisfaction, is about passion and commitment, the willingness to invest oneself and expend ones discretionary effort to help the employer succeed,” Johnson says. Engagement is measured by the things an employee does that they are not required to do to keep their job, like stocking the linen closet between patients. “Satisfaction comes from engagement. If all you do is try to please people that won’t engage people. “We want to focus on engagement."

Let’s have a drum roll, now, for the eight key drivers of employee engagement:

1. Integrity and Trustworthiness of Leadership/Management. This is at the top of the list. To earn employee engagement, they must trust their managers, believe they have integrity, and demonstrate sincere interest in employee well being. Such managers have the ability to communicate difficult messages well, listen to employees, follow through with action, and communicate back. They close the loop. “If you don’t do that, people will stop bringing you ideas,” he says.
2. Employee/Management Relationship. Buckinghan and Coffman asserted that this is the most powerful driver of employee engagement. Relationships are four times more important in driving engagement, so spend time building that relationship.
3. Nature of the Job. This refers to day-to-day content and routine of the job. Each employee needs to have opportunities to be involved in decision-making. Johnson recommended delegating responsibilities liberally. It is important that their voices be heard and feedback is given; this feedback is especially critical if a final decision goes against their wishes. Don’t micro-manage
4. Line of Sight Between Individual Performance and Corporate Goals. Employees need to know how the performance of their job affects corporate goals and mission. “This is how the seven x-rays you did today contributed to the goals of this organization,” Johnson explains. This needs to be accomplished and regularly reinforced through meetings with employees, not just at annual review time.
5. Career Growth and Development. This can be tough in a small department, but it is not impossible. It is not always providing a career ladder, but sometimes it is getting creative and finding ways to help them develop their skills through continuing education. This includes being mindful of ways to develop people with the skills to replace you. “This refers to the degree to which an employee feels there are future opportunities for career growth and promotion within a modality, the department, or company, and, to a lesser degree is aware of a clearly defined path,” Johnson notes. “Sometimes you just need to ask.”
6. Pride About the Company. This refers to the degree of self esteem the person derives from being associated with the company. To encourage this, Johnson recommends posting positive press about the organization and observing national professional occasions such as National Radiologic Technology Week, Ultrasound Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
7. Coworkers and Team Members. This is why hiring the right people is so important. Managers must recognize the significance influence an employee’s colleagues have on his her level of engagement. If you hire the wrong person, you can poison the environment. Johnson also recommends nipping any conficts in the bud. “If you have conflict among team members, roll up your sleeves, jump in, and be willing to get bloody to resolve it,” he says. “Don’t leave things to chance. If you are aware of a conflict between individuals and you are waiting for