Sunday, July 10, 2011

Employee Engagement: A Tell-Tale Sign

There are a lot of reasons why people work overtime: financial need, boredom, compulsion from supervision, desire to be part of the team, etc. Only one or a few of these reasons will tell you if you have high level of engagement from your employees. When employees are engaged, they are committed to the mission of the organization and willing to do what's necessary to see it succeed. That commitment would lead to suggestions for improvement, being responsible for the needs of customers and other external shareholders, seeking ways to help their team and teammates be better, and working diligently to achieve and exceed the performance targets.

Suppose your business is overwhelmed with business and you need extra hours. Now you can make overtime mandatory but you're not giving them a choice to show their level of commitment. You can keep it voluntary and this will work if you've built up a lot of trust between management and the rank-and-file. If you don't have a lot of trust, you will still get volunteers but they will be motivated to satisfy their own needs: finances, something to do, belonging, etc. However, if you get plenty of time being offered by your employees because they want to complete their projects, get more product out the door, shorten the lines, fill more orders, then you know they're committed to the mission. If individuals occasionally skip a week because of outside needs, then come back and offer to work overtime, you know their hearts are in it. If they work out with others on the team how to get more hours overall, and just the right amount of time and the extra time is shared, then you know they're doing it for the good of the whole and not trying to benefit themselves with the extra pay they might earn.

If you see people happy to work the overtime, rather than grudgingly punching in, you know you're doing a good job of engaging with them, and letting them engage with you.

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