About 10 days ago, the Atlanta Journal Constitution published its annual ranking of the top places to work in the Metro Atlanta area. Two years ago J. Smith Lanier & Co. was ranked in the top 5 midsize business places to work and this year was ranked 13th in that group. (Click here for my blog post in 2013.) Congratulations are due to it for maintaining its status as a top workplace. As was the case in 2013, no other independent insurance agencies were ranked and there were no insurance companies anywhere to be found.
What most interested me were the results of a survey that the AJC gave the employees of the top ranked workplaces to find out what was most important to them about where they worked. The three most important factors cited by those employees all had to do with the feeling of connection between them and their employer. The most important factor was feeling genuinely appreciated by their employer, followed closely by a feeling of confidence about their future at work and that their employer was going in the right direction. To my surprise, the two things that were least important to these employees were feeling that their pay was fair for the work they did (cited by only 51%) and bringing up the rear, feeling that their benefits package was good compared to similar companies (cited by only 37%).
Engagement is the buzzword in human resources circles for creating a connection between the employee and employer. A recent survey of employees found that over 68% of them self-identified as being disengaged at work. Other studies show that disengaged employees are not as productive as employees who feel engaged at work and by some estimates cost the American economy $550 billion a year as a result.
In addition to productivity loss, disengaged employees can negatively affect office morale and generally do not provide the type of customer service that is needed in today’s economic environment to distinguish your insurance agency from everyone else. From the above description of the negative effects that disengaged employees can have on a workplace, it should not be hard to figure out which employees in your agency may be disengaged.
Three general rules for creating a workplace of engaged employees are: 1) listen to them, especially about problems they may see and suggestions they may have for improvements in workflow and other office procedures; 2) encourage them to work together to solve the problems that may exist and advance the goals of the agency; and 3) give them regular feedback on their performance, praise where warranted and constructive criticism where necessary. The key here as in most areas of life is regular and honest two-way communication.
For an article on seven actions that can be taken to implement the above general rules, click here. For those who want more information, click here to register for a free one hour webinar on creating an engaged workforce that will be held next week on April 8 at 1 p.m. Finally, if you are looking for suggestions on how to use reward and recognition to boost the productivity of your agency’s employees, click here to download a free booklet on that subject.