I think we all generally agree that engaged employees are a powerful force for delivering company success. I think we all also agree that you cannot force employees to engage. You can, however, create work environments and cultures in which employees want to engage and give their best.

So what can you do to create such an engaging culture or environment? Gallup research released earlier this month found one simple factor – direct manager style – can profoundly impact employee engagement. To summarise:

• Managers who focus on employee strengths have 61% engaged employees and 1% actively disengaged

• Managers who focus on employee weaknesses have 45% engaged employees and 22% actively disengaged

• Managers who ignore their employees have 2% engaged employees and 40% actively disengaged

What’s the moral of this story? Employees crave any feedback from managers – any indication that what they do matters – but too many managers prefer to simply ignore the most basic of managerial duties. How many? According to Gallup, 25% of employees place themselves in the “ignored” category – not surprising when considered along with results from an Adecco survey (reported in Human Resource Executive) in which 76% of employees say the boss is lacking in motivational skills.

Some managers think they’ve effectively recognised employees by throwing money at them. Another recent survey from McKinsey proves the lie in this belief:

“Nonfinancial motivators are more effective than cash in building long-term employee engagement in most sectors, job functions and business contexts. … Respondents view three non-cash motivators – praise from immediate managers, leadership attention (for example, one-on-one conversations), and a chance to lead projects or task forces – as no less or even more effective motivators than the three highest-rated financial incentives: cash bonuses, increased base pay, and stock or stock options.”

Once again, praise and leadership attention are cited as most desired by employees and most effective at fostering employee engagement. Are you one of ignored? Are you recognised for your strengths or called out for your weaknesses? How does this impact your attitude, effort and commitment at work?

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