Employee Engagement is Not Enough: Three Simple Ways to Gut Check for Cohesion

Most HR publications and educational conference agendas are packed with commentary about the importance of employee engagement. The disconnect is when organizational leaders think engagement is simply a form of commitment.

Fostering engagement—which includes employees being committed to successful results of the company—requires creating an environment where teamwork thrives and value abounds. This type of engagement is the by-product of a Cohesion Culture™.

In three simple steps, you can easily gut check the culture to understand if you’re experiencing cohesion within your organization. These three steps include: Greetings, Laughter & Handshakes

Begin by WALKING the halls of your organization on any given day and take note of the atmosphere. If you do not see these three cohesion activities happening before your very eyes, then you are missing the tell-tale signs of employees not feeling part of the organization’s culture.

Step One: Greetings Set The Tone

During a 2017 visit to Duke Manufacturing in Prague, we discussed the similarities and differences in employee culture between the US and the Czech Republic. One of the conversations uncovered how important it is for employees to feel included and needed. Team Duke (as they called themselves) shared insights from employee surveys that suggested a higher approval rating for employees who felt valued that occurred when they were greeted and acknowledged by others, not just senior management.

Employees self-identified as “valued” when people took time to make eye contact, authentically greet them, and offer positive feedback for their work while moving through or congregating in common areas.

Step Two: Leadership through Laughter

If your employees are not outwardly displaying friendly humor, leadership may want to dial it up a notch. People need to laugh. I want to be clear. I’m encouraging leaders to adopt a practice of injecting humor that promotes inclusion, dispels any type of crudeness, and bans distasteful bullying. A culture of cohesion promotes cultural harmony.

The humor should set the tone and would be measured by the amount of hearty “belly” laughter, infectious smiles, and nods of congeniality displayed openly in employee gathering areas. When laughter fills the hallways and common spaces, employees can be more relaxed. Laughter releases tension and creates a more casual environment.

People who are more relaxed tend to free their minds of unnecessary concerns and contribute to innovative solutions, act cohesively in team settings, and show increased efforts toward productivity.

Step Three: Handshakes Seal the Deal

Are your leaders outwardly recognizing employees for performance? Do you see other employees doing the same with their colleagues? If not, this is another sign that your culture is lacking cohesion.

For centuries business transactions have been consummated with two individuals who establish common terms and then shake hands in agreement. It’s a common practice that requires little to no training but can make all the difference.

Leadership sets the tone to be modeled. Imagine the feeling of value an employee gets when a member of leadership or a colleague congratulate him or her for completing a project, participating in community service, finishing an educational achievement or helping a consumer, partner, or other colleague solve a problem. It’s the acknowledgment WITH A handshake—or perhaps a fist bump or a gentle pat on the shoulder—that signifies a job well done.

Putting It All Together

These minor efforts can have a major impact on teamwork, performance, and talent retention. Employee tenure saves companies the astronomical time and money it takes to replace employees who lacked a sense of belonging, value, and commitment.

Engaged talent is 87% less likely to leave your organization.

Being able to spot the warning signs of a dysfunctional culture, then get ahead of the issues, positions leaders to act accordingly. They establish a mindset that fosters talent retention through actions of common feelings, including a team atmosphere that offers appreciation when employees perform value-added work.

It doesn’t take a degree in social behavior to recognize what’s happening. It takes leadership focused on relating to others and committing to employee-centric behavior to make employees want to stay.

Are you exhibiting employee-centric behaviors with your employees?