If I were to ask you what's the most valuable asset in your company, would you say Intellectual Property? Machinery/equipment? Real estate? Surely those all have significant value. What many don't realize is the actual value of personnel.
The staff can make or break a business based on their level of commitment, motivation and interest in their work. While engaging employees already is a complicated skill to master, incoming generations of workers are bringing with them new expectations and desires for the workplace, making it even more difficult to keep all employees engaged.
In fact, the number of employees looking to leave their current job is higher among Millennials, with 48% saying they likely look for a new job in the next three months and 56% in the next 12 months.
Did I mention that the Millennial workforce (those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s) makes up the largest portion of workers in America?
It is clear that the importance of keeping employees engaged has reached critical heights. If companies hope to maintain and grow their businesses into the future, the key is to ensure employees are engaged.
Although the majority of business leaders agree that improving workforce engagement would improve their organization, only 25% have an engagement strategy. Do you?
First, let's define engagement. Workforce engagement can be interpreted as the execution of discretionary effort. It is a combination of commitment to the organization and its values, plus a willingness to help colleagues. Engagement is something the employee has to offer the employer. It cannot be taught or required, but rather must be inspired.
Engagement is not just about keeping employees happy. To be frank, many employees have no problem sleepwalking through the workday, putting only time - but no passion or interest - into their work. They embody what Jack Welch, author and previous CEO of General Electric, said many years ago, essentially stating, "Never mistake activity for accomplishment."
The goal with engagement is to go beyond task completion, inspiring employees to feel passionate about their work and motivated to perform their best. This requires creating an environment that prioritizes communication, promotes empowerment and offers opportunity for growth. Our surveys conducted among manufacturers consistently tell us that employees are looking for respect, accountability, trust, opportunity, communication and transparency within the workplace. They want to be cared for and listened to. They want management to believe in them, then they will be encouraged to help the company succeed.
This engagement "strategy" starts with leadership. They must support engagement, and not just by saying they do. They must play an active role and provide the resources and budget to make it happen. This is one of the most important investments a company can make in their business, as it will benefit the organization down the line when employees reach higher levels of engagement, efficiency and productivity.
Heed this warning:
Failure to focus on employee engagement is likely to lead to the disappearance of your most valuable employees. This is especially critical with the talent shortage facing the manufacturing industry, making it increasingly difficult to find skilled workers to fill positions. Now is the time to show your employees they are valued and give them the leadership they deserve, before they decide to look for it elsewhere.
Mike Beels is a Lean Program Manager at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, which provides services and support to manufacturers in Macomb County to enable them to compete, grow and prosper. Learn more at the-center.org.