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Inside Dental Technology
August 2022
Volume 13, Issue 8

Employee Engagement Is Key

Creating a positive work environment for higher retention and performance

Brian Forman

One of the most critical elements of employee retention right now is employee engagement. With the continuing and relatively strong labor market, it is more important than ever to ensure that your dental laboratory is taking into consideration the importance of employee engagement. According to a Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Pulse Survey, 92% of responding business leaders agree that high employee engagement leads to customer satisfaction, and 81% of respondents believe that employees perform better when they are highly engaged, which in turn increases the organization's success.Employee engagement impacts almost every critical aspect of a business including client experience, employee turnover, and profitability.

One of the ways to increase employee engagement is through one-on-one individual meetings with staff members. This should be a weekly check-in rather than a review discussion. The focus should be catching up to see how ongoing projects are going, what other tasks they are working on, and generally how they are feeling about things both personally and professionally. It is a great opportunity to develop and maintain strong employee-supervisor connections. This helps facilitate a better working relationship, builds trust, and provides the employee with an informal way to have weekly discussions without it being a formal review. Depending on the tenure of the employee, the frequency of the one-on-one meetings could be increased if it seems that receiving additional face time with a supervisor would be beneficial to them. Another goal of these one-on-one meetings is to measure how engaged employees feel in the dental laboratory.

There are four main employee engagement profiles: highly engaged, moderately engaged, barely engaged, and disengaged. These profiles are critical to understand and measure because they directly correlate to the success of the business and future employee turnover. Highly engaged staff tend to have a more favorable view of their employer, feel a stronger connection to their colleagues, and act in an advocate capacity for their peers, which leads to higher retention rates because they have positive feelings about their work environment. This is also reflected in their performance. Moderately engaged employees also have a favorable view of their employer, but see areas for improvement and guidance. They sometimes will need a "push" to get them to be onboard with some initiatives. Barely engaged staff are considered to be in the "yellow" zone. They may feel indifferent about their work, and there is a higher risk of them separating from the company. These employees need to be counseled to address issues that are holding them back from being fully engaged. Disengaged employees hold a negative view of the company and are disconnected from the goals and mission of the employer. They are not satisfied with their job or responsibilities and are at high risk of leaving the organization. These employees are in the "red" zone.

Focusing in on the benefits of employee engagement demonstrates that there are many factors involved. One factor is better retention rates. As of now, the labor market remains on the employees' side, although that may shift at some point as the year progresses. With low unemployment, retaining your key talent is critical. Better productivity is another benefit as highly engaged work environments have a 41% lower absenteeism rate.2 There is also a direct correlation between an employee's overall health and their level of engagement. Engaged employees are less likely to have major health issues and more likely to have a better diet, exercise more, and have stronger mental health. Workplace injury rates also are lower in more engaged work environments because people are more aware of their surroundings and are more focused on their assignments and tasks.

The leadership team, human resources team, and employees themselves all play a role in driving employee engagement. Company leaders set the tone and are responsible for the communication changes made. They cast the vision and are the influential campaigners. Employees pay attention to what is communicated and how it is disseminated downward. Human resources essentially takes ownership for employee engagement. They are responsible for supporting and developing the leaders, providing the necessary tools and processes, managing the day-to-day needs of the company, and ensuring that the correct employee engagement partners are selected. They are the force behind the scenes and make sure that everything is running smoothly. The final voice of employee engagement is the backbone of the company—the employees. They are the eyes and ears of what is happening within the daily operations. Employees are responsible for engaging in meaningful relationships with their colleagues and managers; providing meaningful, honest feedback is another role they play in the process.

Creating action plans to move the needle is important. This holds everyone accountable, identifies and discusses key engagement drivers, and commits to changes that will have the greatest impact. Employee engagement surveys are another useful tool to gauge employee feelings and provide a high-level overview of what people are thinking. Surveys provide an opportunity for employees to voice their opinions, thoughts, and feelings. The employee engagement process must be continuous and have everyone onboard to increase retention and create a work environment where staff can be fully engaged and not fall behind or become disengaged. It takes effort and strategic thinking, but it will lead to greater success for everyone.

References

1. Quantum Workplace. A winning approach to employee success. Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. https://www.quantumworkplace.com/winning-approach-to-employee-success. Published 2020. Accessed June 30, 2022.

2. Harter J, Mann A. The right culture: not just about employee satisfaction. Gallup website. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236366/right-culture-not-employee-satisfaction.aspx. Published April 12, 2017. Accessed June 30, 2022.

About the Author

Brian Forman is a Human Resources Manager with AccentCare in Brooklyn, New York.

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