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Sunday, August 31, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 3/20/2014

Employee engagement comes from leadership

Supportive environment, meaningful work are key

BY ANN BELSER
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE

Do you love your job but feel like it doesn’t love you back?

It’s not you, it’s them.

Your company’s leadership is making you feel unloved.

“In most cases, it’s because of the leader,” said Jim Concelman, vice president of leadership for Development Dimensions International in the Pittsburgh area. “The leader is the biggest driver of employee engagement.”

“Employee engagement” is the business school term for people who love their jobs.

There are three key elements of employee engagement:

First, employees feel they are doing meaningful work.

“Meaningful work” can have a wide range of meanings. It can be that employees believe they are helping the business or it can be that they believe they are helping society, the environment, or making a broader impact on the world.

Second is the work environment. Mr. Concelman said it is no surprise that employees want to work in a positive environment that is supportive, but it is easy for the work environment to spin out of control. Bullying is a problem in many places and has such a wide reach that other workers’ engagement is affected just by being around it.

The third issue is whether employees feel they are moving forward in their careers. That sense of career development can have to do with promotions, but it can also be that employees feel they are mastering new skills.

Surprisingly, pay is not a factor until it starts to affect an employee’s life outside of work.

For instance, someone might take a job that pays less if he or she believes in the mission of the job. But, Mr. Concelman cautioned, if people are not recognized for their efforts and their pay is stagnant, they will be less engaged.

He said most employees recognize that the economy has been bad for the past seven years, but those who think the company is not effectively handling the new economic realities will have lower employee engagement.

Companies with low employee engagement face the very real risk of losing their most valuable employees, either literally or figuratively.

Mr. Concelman said there is a calculus that employees make: “Is what I am doing valued? If I don’t feel I am getting paid for what I’m worth, I’m either going to leave or do less.”

If an organization starts to head down that hill, it is hard for good employees to hang on. Then the company is taking a real risk of mediocrity.

“Not only are you getting lower productivity, but you’re also losing the energy and ideas that people bring to an organization; it’s a real downward spiral,” he said.

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Ann Belser is a reporter for the Post-Gazette.

Contact her at: abelser@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1699.



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