Personnel management has its challenges. First, you need employees to physically show up for work, and second you need them to mentally check in. This isn’t always easy. However, when you look at the cost of lost productivity from employees who half-heartedly go through the day, the numbers are staggering.

Employees who are engaged put their heart and soul into their job and have energy and excitement to give more than what is required. Engaged employees also are more committed and loyal to the business or practice. Here are some recent national research numbers to ponder about the importance of employee engagement:

More engaged employees equal

  • 51% higher productivity.
  • 9% higher shareholder returns.
  • 47% higher shareholder returns over the last 5 years.
  • Outperform peers by 20-28%
  • Have fewer days of absence, an average of 3.5 days.

In addition, company’s with engaged employees had a 19% increase in operating income compared to a 33% decrease in those who did not. Follow that with a 5% increase in engagement equaling a 0.7% increase in operating margin.

Another finding, 80% of employees with a high degree of trust in management are committed to the organization, compared to only 25% of those who have a small level of trust.

In companies with employee engagement saw the following effect on total shareholder returns. Employee engagements of 60-70% returns to shareholders were 24.2%, 49-60% engagement returned 9.1%, and below 25% engagement saw a negative impact of TSR.

In other words, having a staff that is not engaged, no matter the size of the practice, costs a lot of money. In an age when reimbursement dollars are shrinking, competition is increasing, and the consumer is taking more control over their health care dollars, we cannot afford to settle with a culture of being average. We need to become highly engaged employees for the health and well being of our practices.

To create a higher level of engagement always begins by tying individual contribution to the larger corporate vision or mission. When an employee believes in what they do, the leaders they work for, and the direction of the company, they will begin to trust and invest in their work. In many offices, this means blowing the dust off the vision statement that has been mounted on the wall for ten or more years. It does you no good to have a vision statement if no one knows about it or how to help you achieve your vision through their work ethic.

 Although employee engagement can be a difficult concept to put into words, here are seven essential elements to successful employee engagement:

#1. Mission, Vision and Strategy. You MUST have a clear, well-defined Mission, Vision, and Strategy that all employees buy into. This does not only define your company’s financial goals but cultural as well. Organizational leadership or the practice doctors and owners are responsible for communicating the vision and keeping it in front of the employees. Employees should be able to see it daily, talk freely about it, and challenge management if they are not accountable to it.

#2. Communication. Over communicate what is going on in the process and the impact on the company’s success. Employees want, and need to know, what is happening, or they will opt out of the process to change. They need feedback that the changes they are making individually contribute to achieving the success defined in the vision statement.

#3. Team environment. Create a strong team environment. High employee engagement is dependent on how well employees get along, interact with each other and participate in a team environment.

#4. A Culture of trust. Employees need to trust each other as well as their leadership. Employees are constantly watching leadership see how their decisions affect the strategic direction of the organization and if their behaviors reflect what they say. Leaders must walk the talk and then hold others accountable as well.

#5. Valued part of the organization. Employees or staffs need to feel validated and valued, as part of the team. Leadership needs to show how they care for their staff or employees and show appreciation/recognition for their efforts. This doesn’t have to include money rewards. The simplest of heartfelt gestures go the longest.

#6. Part of the process. Employees need to feel like they are part of the process, that their thoughts and ideas matter and that they have a voice in how their work is performed.

#7. What is expected? Employees need to know what is expected of them, and then need to be given the training, tools, and resources to be successful.

Start by evaluating your team’s culture. Do you have engaged employees who are giving it their all for each other, leadership and the practice? If not, begin focusing your leadership and management efforts on these seven areas. It will change the whole focus of your practice.

And sometimes, that is just what you need - focus.

Michael Karlsrud, M.Ed., is the principle consultant of The Karlsrud Company, a leading training and development company serving organizations throughout the United States. He also is CEO of K-Calls, a contact center that provides communication solutions to the optical industry's suppliers and doctors. You can hear Michael as the host of The Vision Council's On The Road Sales Coach, or read articles in LabAdvisor magazine and The 20/20 Opticians Handbook.