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FCW : December 2013
Commentary KRIS VAN RIPER AND SIG LIBOWITZ KRIS VAN RIPER is a managing director and SIG LIBOWITZ is a director at CEB. In the aftermath of the government shutdown and amid continued uncertainty about the next budget impasse, employee engagement in the federal government is under pressure. IT managers have an opportunity in the current envi- ronment to take concrete steps to re-engage their staffs and make sig- ni cant improvements in employee retention and productivity. CEB de nes engagement as the amount of commitment, effort and intention to stay that employees exhibit based on their past experi- ences, present events and future expectations. Our research has identi ed four key engagement strategies that have the greatest impact in the current federal work- place. They can result in as much as a 30 percent improvement in employees willingness to go above and beyond their current responsi- bilities and a 36 percent improve- ment in their intention to stay with the organization. The strategies are: 1. Reconnect employees to the organization's mission. Employ- ees who have a clear understand- ing of their connection to mission success increase their discretionary effort by more than 30 percent. This level of engagement requires an open dialogue around three major concepts: who we are as an agency, why the agency exists and, most important, how a particular indi- vidual contributes to the agency s mission. 2. Navigate role complexities. In a global survey of more than 23,000 employees, more than two-thirds reported that their jobs are more complex than ever. More than 60 percent reported an increase in collaboration and coordination with peers. Given this increasing complexity, IT managers need to guide their teams in adapting to rapid changes. Attempts to protect employees from complexity often back re and can come across as micro-management. Instead, our research indicates that managers should focus on fostering key rela- tionships, clarifying roles, and pro- viding advice and context. Those types of activities are six to eight times more effective than attempt- ing to over-simplify complex reali- ties or lter information. 3. Empower workforce con- tributions. Employees who feel empowered have engagement levels more than 20 percent higher than those who are less empow- ered. Empowerment is not about expanding authority in decision- making but instead should focus on enabling employees to make greater organizational contributions within the scope of their authority. Approaches that empower employ- ees, such as supporting risk taking and encouraging broader communi- cations, result in engagement levels that are about 10 percent higher than average. 4. Focus employees on the future. We conducted a survey of more than 10,000 employees worldwide and discovered that past events, present experiences and future expectations all shape an employee s engagement. Most organizations focus on building positive present experiences and recovering from past events and often overlook future expectations. Managers can build higher employ- ee engagement by having an honest dialogue about employees desired capabilities, career interests and potential networks. In fact, organi- zations where employees have high levels of engagement can see a 17 percent increase in an employee s willingness to accept a new role in the organization and a 38 percent increase in the willingness to accept additional responsibility. Although many external forces are beyond their control, managers have the ability to address all four of the proven drivers of engagement. Even better, those strategies do not focus on changing existing compen- sation structures or performance models but instead stress the impor- tance of effective communication and a connection to mission. ■ Boosting IT employee engagement IT managers can improve retention and productivity by focusing on these four drivers of employee engagement Employees who feel empowered have engagement levels more than 20 percent higher than those who are less empowered. 12 December 2013 FCW.COM
November 30, 2013