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The benefits of employee engagement for your practice (Proceedings)

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Aug 01, 2009

The 2008 Employee Engagement Report published by BlessingWhite, a global consulting firm, found that only 29% of employees in North America are engaged and 19% of employees are actually disengaged. Their report focuses on the relationship between employee engagement and retention. Employees that are not engaged lack job satisfaction and are not committed to their jobs or to company goals. When employees are not engaged, job satisfaction, employee retention, productivity, and customer service may all suffer. How engaged are your employees? How does this affect their efficiency, teamwork and interactions with clients? In light of recent data, these are relevant questions to consider. In these proceedings you will gain insight about employee engagement and learn how to develop a team of employees that have a passion for excellence and are committed to your business.

Defining employee engagement

In their book Human Sigma, two Principals of Gallup, Joe Fleming and Jim Asplund define employee engagement as the "ability to capture heads, hearts and souls of your employees to instill an intrinsic desire and passion for excellence." They say that "engaged" employees are emotionally and psychologically committed to the firm. Blessing White's model of employee engagement focuses on an individual's contribution to company success and personal satisfaction in their job role. Wikipedia provides this straightforward definition: "Employee engagement, also called Work engagement, is a concept that is generally viewed as managing discretionary effort, that is, when employees have choices, they will act in a way that furthers their organization's interests. An engaged employee is a person who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work."

These three definitions reveal that employee engagement involves both job satisfaction and job contribution. The two are often linked because employees that derive rewards and satisfaction from their jobs tend to have a higher job performance.

Assess your employees' level of engagement

The level of employee engagement is critically important in the delivery of veterinary medical care and client service. Partially engaged employees may not be accountable and may not be as efficient and productive as they could be if they were fully engaged. Disengaged employees don't have the inclination or passion to cater to the needs of pet owners and often don't work well with other employees.

With the above definitions of employee engagement in mind, consider how "engaged" you think your employees are. Undoubtedly, you will conclude that your team members have variable degrees of engagement. Blessing White's report outlines 5 levels of engagement based on employee's contributions and job satisfaction. For the sake of simplicity, I recommend you think about whether your employees are fully engaged, partially engaged or disengaged. This should be a relatively easy process if you consider fully engaged employees to be your shining stars and high achievers, disengaged employees to be your "bad apples" with poor job performance and negative attitudes and partially engaged employees to be everyone else on your team. The purpose of this thought process is merely to get you thinking about how your employees rate in terms of their level of engagement. The next step is to thoughtfully evaluate each staff member's job performance and job satisfaction. Create a dialogue with team members and listen carefully to whether they are really happy with their job roles. You may have employees that are productive and accountable but they may not be satisfied with their job. Once you assess your employees' level of engagement, you can begin to formulate a plan to improve their engagement if necessary. Don't forget to consider your own level of engagement if you are a manager or an owner.