Photo of a woman looking at camera, behind her is a graphic of an arrow rising on an angle

By Paula Jimenez

As executives, we are responsible for our organization’s performance. Instinctively, we know that to achieve our mission, we need employees to do their part. These instincts are supported by a great deal of research about employee engagement and why it is important. What often gets lost is the role that leaders at all levels play in creating an environment where employees remain engaged.

Illustration of a business woman helping a business man up a staircase. The staircase is also an upward line on a graph.Executives set the vision and tone for the organization, and leaders take that vision and tone and bring it to life for the employees they lead.

The following principles can help foster a more engaged workforce at all levels of your organization:

  • Executives set the vision and share it often
  • Values are inculcated in the ethos of the organization
  • Respect is a given regardless of role, and lack of respect is handled swiftly
  • Communication is multidimensional and includes conversations and social and traditional media
  • Executives and leaders invest in continual learning so they are bringing new insights and techniques to bear to drive employee and organizational performance
  • Executives and leaders recognize that each employee is different and manage to each employee’s uniqueness
  • Leaders and employees occupy the right roles for their talent, interest, and abilities
  • Leaders and employees understand what is expected of them and understand the connection between what they do and how it aligns with the mission
  • Employees receive the learning and training they need when they need it so they can accomplish their goals
  • Leaders are held accountable for providing timely feedback, and feedback is given with an actionable level of specificity
  • Employees trust their executives and leaders and believe they are acting in an honest and trustworthy manner
  • Executives, leaders, and employees engage in dialogue, learn from one another and share what they are learning
  • Executives, leaders, and employees focus on their performance

If the formula is so simple, why do so many of us have engagement issues? The answer is simple – we divert our attention to other issues we perceive as “more important.” When we divert our attention, we lose traction, and lost traction is hard to regain.

While we must juggle multiple priorities and responsibilities, in the end, there is nothing more important than our employees. If we don’t pay attention to them, fail to invest in them, forget to communicate with them, or dismiss being transparent to them, we fail. The consequences of our failure are significant: it costs the organization money, time, and reputation – none of which any of us can afford to lose.