Monday, June 19, 2017

Creating an Environment that Fosters Employee Engagement

By Rhian Sharp
President and Chief Executive Officer
Sharp Medical Recruiting and HR Consulting

Have you ever google searched the term employee engagement?  There are over 286,000 results! Surely this topic is on the minds of many leaders.   Managers and organizations spend countless hours of the day focusing on the idea of employee engagement.  But what specifically is employee engagement? Why is it so important for organizations?  How is it measured?  And how can we improve it?

What Is Employee Engagement?

What exactly is employee engagement?  Let me first start by saying that employee engagement is NOT exclusively about tenure.  It is very possible to have highly tenured employees with very low levels of engagement. Think about it… have you ever visited a business where the person providing the service had been employed for over 20 years, and was rude or slow while customers stood waiting irately in line?  Surely as a customer, the chance of your return visit is minimal.  And the reality is that the employee is not at all engaged.

David Macleod (co-founder of Engaged for Success) has a clear definition of engagement.  Mr. Macleod states that employee engagement for managers “is about how we create the conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential.”

So,truly engaged employees have evolved to a level of what I refer to as performance actualization. They are performing to their maximum potential because they not only have the knowledge, skills and abilities to do their work but they are also working in an environment designed for their success. The environment includes not only the technology needed to perform the job, but also the organization’s policies, and culture.

So why do we want and need more engaged employees? I’ll answer that with one word:productivity. Research shows that employees who are more engaged, who feel more a part of the organization are more productive.

Aimee McKee at the Teleos Leadership Institute says: “Happy people are better workers. Those who are engaged with their jobs and colleagues work harder — and smarter.”

In fact,Gallup claims a 20% or better boost to productivity and profitability for companies with high employee engagement.

How to Measure Employee Engagement?

The truth is that work IS personal.  Human beings tend to be happy and more engaged when they feel a part of the organization and its culture.  Therefore, employee engagement tools tend to ask the following types of questions with the intention of gaining a better understanding of an organization’s employee’s level of engagement:
  • I know what is expected of me at work
  • At work, my opinions seem to count
  • I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right
  • The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important
  • At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day
  • My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work
  • In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work
  • I have a best friend at work
  • My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person
  • In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress
  • There is someone at work who encourages my development
  • This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow
There are several great companies  that provide survey tools to help organizations measure their employee engagement levels.  In fact, organizations can analyze the level of engagement by department and by individual managers.

Creating an Environment To Achieve Employee Engagement(The Hierarchy Of Employee Engagement)

Working with various organizations for the last 20 years, I’ve observed that organizations with highly engaged employees tend to have a very well established hierarchy of engagement. What’s a hierarchy of engagement? Well, like Maslow’s theory of a hierarchy of needs, employees in an organization all need the following events to occur in a meaningful way:

Leaders of organizations can foster a culture that focuses on the events in the diagram above.  It all starts with the talent acquisition (recruitment) process.Is the company’s brand one that people want to be a part of?  Does the company offer a competitive or creative compensation and benefits plan designed to attract and retain the right people?Then, once employees join the organization how robust and effective is the training provided?  Are performance reviews just a ‘let’s check the boxes exercise’ or is it an event that leads to a collaborate review of how the employee and company can best perform? Finally, does the organization have a genuine succession plan, one that provides the training and mentor ship needed to ‘grow’ its next generation of leaders?  

Bring It All Together

Having a more engaged employee population is achievable.  It involves not only understanding and measuring the level of engagement, but also an honest and introspective look at the environment and the culture needed to have highly engaged and productive employees.

Rhian Sharp is the founder and CEO of Sharp Medical Recruiting and Consulting. Rhian has been an HR Leader for almost 20 years and a Healthcare leader for over 16 years (working with industry leading companies like McKesson and Gentiva). In 2009, Rhian was named the first HR Director for the newly created state agency DBHDD. The agency consisted of the 7 behavioral health hospitals in the state of Georgia.  Rhian earned a B.A. in Economics from Georgia State University and her MBA and Masters Certificate in Human Resources from Keller Graduate School of Management of DeVry University.


  1. Wow! A great and informative article.

  2. Thank you for your positive comment. I have an up coming book on the topic of employee engagement that is scheduled to be published in March of 2018

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