An article I read this week presented two interesting points about employee involvement:
- Employee surveys consistently show that the single most important factor in employee engagement is an employee’s relationship with his or her direct manager. In fact, employees don’t leave companies; they leave their managers.
- According to HR Magazine, engaged employees perform 20% better and are 87% less likely to leave an organization.
This reinforces our observations about involving employees. Successful involvement efforts improve employee views of the company, managers, and their own roles. They feel more valued and are more likely to believe the goals of the company reflect their own values. The result is better performance from employees who buy into what the organization is doing.
The article supports the importance of supervisors to any employee involvement process and the need for upper management to provide support and training for those on the front line. Often, top managers believe that if they express their belief in employee involvement, supervisors will automatically follow along and support the process. This may be far from reality.
Some supervisors are threatened by employee involvement. They may fear the skill set that made them good supervisors will be diminished in the new system. They may feel a loss of control. There is likely to be a lack of certainty about what their new roles will be and how they can carry them out effectively.
Organizations that support employee involvement generally recognize the importance of ongoing training and coaching for their employees. Some do not carry this over to the supervisors, who also need help making the transition and continually sharpening their skills.
We are currently working with a large employer to provide training for their front line supervisors. We are helping them develop the skills they will need to increase employee involvement and supervise in a unionized environment. When we have worked with supervisors in other organizations we have seen them become active supporters and participants in involvement programs. This has helped them build a better relationship with their employees.
Supervisors who do not understand their role in employee involvement or are not comfortable with the process will have many opportunities to throw up roadblocks. This can doom the engagement efforts before they start.
Employee involvement pays significant benefits to any organization. Remember to involve your supervisors throughout the process.