For as much focus as I’ve seen on employee engagement over the past few years, it was shocking to read that 84% of workers are just “coming to work” – not contributing to the organization. This is according to recent research by ADP Research Institute’s (ADPRI) Global Study of Engagement.
It’s certainly not for a lack of effort by organizations to improve engagement. But if efforts are put forth in the wrong areas, engagement doesn’t change. According to the ADPRI study, the two areas of focus should be teams and trust. To clarify, by teams they are referring to cross-functional teams – not a departmental team. I think often all the focus is put on departmental teams, but it’s the cross-departmental teams that contribute to improved engagement.
The study found that when an individual is on a cross-functional team, they are two to three times more likely to be fully engaged than those who are not. The ADPRI study found that organizations “don’t understand or act on the vital power of teams.” Work is being done in cross-functional teams and committees, yet HR is often tasked with building teams via departments. 75% of cross-functional teams are dysfunctional. If we can fix this, engagement will rise.
ADPRI has some tips to improve the strength of an organization’s cross-functional teams:
- Know where the work is happening. HR and leadership need to know where the work is being done. They suggest utilizing collaboration tools to measure productivity. Know who the contributors are on the cross-functional teams working on larger projects.
- Give leaders the right tools to develop teams. Leaders must have tools to measure the effectiveness of their teams, which allow them to be more agile and make adjustments as necessary. One example they gave is Team Fitness Tool.
- Build Trust. According to the study, an employee is 12 times more likely to be engaged if they trust their team leader. Encourage team leaders to set aside 15 minutes each week to meet with team members. They suggest asking the following questions to build a solid relationship of trust:
a. What are your priorities?
b. What’s going well?
c. Where are you stuck?
d. How can I help?
- Shift your focus. It’s important to evaluate the efforts you are making and adjust as necessary. Ask yourself:
a. Are our employee engagement efforts making a significant difference?
b. What could we do differently?
c. How can we improve our efforts on building highly effective, cross-functional teams?
Here at ASE we have weekly one-on-one meetings as well as group meetings that range from weekly to monthly. In addition, we have several cross-functional committees. Our newest initiative is called ASE 2030. This will bring team members from across the organization together in weekly forums to discuss ideas for the future of ASE and how we can continuously make improvements across our service lines.
What has your organization done that’s made in a significant impact on employee engagement? Please share with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.