Relationships and employee engagement: What is the connection?
According to Cross, Gray, Gerbasi, and Assimakopoulos (SciVerse ScienceDirect, 2012), two means for increasing employee engagement are:
Of course, roles and reward systems are important in employee engagement, but workplace relationships matter.
Positive interactions at work improve one’s emotional, physical and cognitive well-being. Through organizational network analysis (ONA), organizations can identify, visualize and analyze the array of interpersonal connections, understand each employee’s impact on engagement, and use interventions to nurture positive interactions. Relationships can produce positive or negative energy.
According to the authors, examples of behaviors that energize relationships include:
You can boost employee engagement by building energizing networks of interactions. Organizations have used training, coaching and behavioral change programs to nurture positive interactions.
The authors found that those employees who demonstrated top performance were more likely to also be considered energizers by their co-workers. They built mutually energizing relationships.
In contrast, employees who are de-energizers exert a significant negative effect on engagement of those around them. And as social psychology findings suggest, the detrimental impact of negative experiences and interactions is more than twice as strong as the positive effect of energizing experiences. Therefore, identify de-energizers and use interventions such as coaching, changes in roles, or helping them find jobs elsewhere, if necessary. A key to increasing engagement is building relationships where employees work with their peers in supportive ways.
Therefore, you can increase employee engagement by targeting informal opinion leaders who have a disproportionate effect on others. Keep in mind that highly influential employees can be highly engaged, be moving toward disengagement, or be disengaged. In all situations, they will influence engagement efforts. Relationships can be one key to increasing engagement in an organization.