By Thomas F. Steiner
A major Gallup study of the American workforce demonstrates that staff “engagement” is key to productivity and profitability. How engaged is your staff? Here’s how to measure it.
Every practice owner dreams of a staff totally focused on the practice mission, continuously initiating improvements and eliminating waste and always putting patient interests ahead of personal convenience. A highly engaged staff is good for business, yet it’s an elusive goal for many owners. In fact, fostering employee engagement is one of the great challenges all employers face.
The Gallup Organization has developed a proprietary technique to measure employee engagement, recognizing the direct link between engagement andperformance. Gallup uses a simple questionnaire to measure engagement, based on employee agreement with 11 statements describing their work environments. The statements range from the perceived importance of the company mission, to the frequency of receiving praise and recognition to the degree of understanding of boss expectations. (See sidebar “Questions to Measure Staff Engagement.”) More than 25 million people have participated in Gallup employee engagement surveys over the years, so the technique is well validated.
Questions to Measure Your Staff Engagement:
Ask employeesto indicate degree of agreement with each of the following statements:
- I know what is expected of me at work.
- I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
- At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
- In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
- My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
- There is someone at work who encourages my development.
- At work, the mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
- My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
- I have a best friend at work.
- In the last six months, someone at work had talked to me about my progress.
- This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.
–From Gallup study: “State of the American Workplace”
For 2012, Gallup reports that 70 percent of Americans are less than fully engaged at work. This includes 52 percent of workers Gallup rates as “not engaged.” These are workers who are emotionally disconnected from their jobs. They show-up for work, but sleepwalk through the day, exhibiting little passion or interest.
Another 18 percent of US workers are categorized as “actively disengaged.” These are people unhappy with their jobs, who actively try to undermine their employers. Actively disengaged employees have higher rates of absenteeism, have more on-the-job accidents, make more errors and are more likely to engage in theft.
Gallup has learned that engagement is slightly lower among men than among women. It is also lower among mid-career people, people in non-managerial positions and people who work in organizations with ten or more employees. There has been no consistent trend in the level of employee engagement over time.
Perhaps Gallup’s most important finding is that job engagement is most influenced by an employee’s relationship with their immediate supervisorand does not correlate with pay and benefits. Most employee apathy and disengagement is traceable to a dysfunctional relationship between a supervisor and a subordinate.
Gallup does not publish engagement levels for optometric staff. But based on OD survey feedback about staff performance, it is safe to assume that there are significant numbers of “not engaged” and “actively disengaged” employees in optometric practices, as in every other type of business.
Analyses of employee engagement by company demonstrate strong correlations between engagement and organizational success. High engagement correlates with revenue growth, profitability, productivity, high-quality output, customer loyalty, new customer creation and low employee turnover. Increasing employee engagement pays major dividends.
A follow-up article on employee engagement will present methods that Gallup has learned are effective to build engagement in any business setting, including eyecare practices.
For more details about Gallup’s employee engagement surveys, see “State of the American Workplace,” available at www.businessjournal.gallup.com.
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Thomas F. Steiner, Director of Market Research for ROB, has spent more than 25 years helping eyecare practices succeed, including pioneering the introduction of color contact lenses into optometry. To contact him: email@example.com