The Holidays: Your Opportunity to Boost Employee Engagement

By Meredith Lepley on December 5th, 2016

Happy holidays! We at Miller Consultants hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving and is looking forward to a peaceful holiday season. The holidays are a time of kindness, giving, family, togetherness, and gratitude for the many blessings in our lives, and we at Miller Consultants are so grateful for you—our clients and friends.
Interestingly, gratitude is also a key component of employee engagement. We are currently conducting an employee engagement survey with one of our long-time clients, Logan Aluminum, a very impressive company with a long history of top-notch engagement scores! Unfortunately, this is not the case for many companies. Despite the fact that employee engagement is absolutely critical to business success, only about 28% of employees nationwide are fully engaged in their work.
Engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has for his/her company, coupled with the exertion of additional discretionary effort—going above and beyond the call of duty. You’re probably familiar with many of the key drivers of engagement such as:

  • doing work that feels important and enables us to maximize our skills and abilities;
  • having the tools and resources to complete our tasks effectively;
  • respecting our leaders;
  • enjoying good communication throughout the organization and feeling heard;
  • learning and developing our skills on the job;
  • having a sense of empowerment to take on projects and make decisions about our work;
    and earning a competitive income and benefits that meet our needs.

But this time of year, we’d like to focus on those additional critical drivers of engagement that speak to the holidays
kindness, community & teamwork, feeling valued, appreciated and cared for. Research by Gallup, the Institute for Workplace Innovation, and many others has demonstrated that the following issues are strong predictors of employee engagement:

  • Social support and teamwork. Having people at work who you care about you and whom you trust is a key determinant of engagement. In fact, one of Gallup’s 12 engagement survey items is “Someone at work seems to care about me as a person.” In addition, feeling part of a team that is all working collaboratively towards an important mutual goal, a “mission,” motivates employees and makes them satisfied and engaged.
    But sometimes we lose sight of that overarching goal of support in the midst of the deadlines, emails, and the general hustle-bustle of our day-to-day lives. At this reflective time of year, companies would be wise to remember the importance of social support, teamwork and mission in engagement. Remind employees of the company’s mission and the good that the company does in the world in order to instill a sense of pride in the work that everyone is doing together. And not only remind employees that they are part of a team, but provide collaboration- and trust-building opportunities to foster greater social support and teamwork among employees to elevate their engagement.
  • Inclusion and diversity. The recent election has highlighted the differences between Americans in a way not seen in many years. However, feeling included and appreciated at work for who I am—no matter how different I may be—is an essential component of employee engagement. Like no other time of the year, the holidays are an opportunity for setting aside differences and coming together. Be sure your organization is doing all it can to bring employees together and foster a sense of inclusion and appreciation of everyone.
  • Praise and recognition. Giving thanks and expressing gratitude is what the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, are all about. Not only does gratitude, praise and recognition feel good to employees and drive their engagement, but research by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner found that 98% of employees report actually performing better when praised and encouraged. Although companies should express gratitude to their employees year-round, it’s especially important at the holidays for organizations to thank their employees for their hard work, commitment and significant contributions throughout the year. And certainly recognize those who have gone above and beyond, as these are your high-performing, engaged employees who are driving business success, and they should be held up as an example to all!

The holiday spirit of kindness, togetherness and gratitude is an integral component of employee engagement year-round. Employees are engaged when they are treated with respect and kindness and are genuinely appreciated, so take the opportunity this month to thank your employees for their work this year, ensure that they know that they are valued and that their contributions are not only noticed but greatly appreciated. You’ll be glad you did!