How First-Line Supervisors Drive Employee Engagement

By Sherri Merbach Managing Director, C-Suite Analytics | March 17, 2019

Employee engagement is about each employee bringing their best, every day. It's about employees committing themselves to helping their departments, peers, managers, and organizations to reach shared goals. We've all worked with employees from both ends of the employee engagement scale.

The number one reason employees engage or disengage is how much they trust their boss. "Boss" in this case means immediate supervisor, the next level up, and the impact of these first-line leaders is so strong that leaders on each level above them can do little to overcome their shortcomings. Or for that matter, improve on their strengths. These leaders' day-to-day behaviors result in either good management styles or bad management styles. 

Savvy supervisors move their engagement approach away from most companies' knee-jerk solutions, mainly one-size-fits-all programs, and instead aim this responsibility squarely upon themselves. These supervisors empirically know that their ability to build trustworthy relationships with each member of their teams brings out the best in each of their employees. And their employees feel such a resulting emotional connection that they work their hardest and smartest, while searching out ways to contribute more. And they also want to stay. Contrast this with bad management behavior where leader-employee connections hardly happen at all. 

This connect-the-dots combination of "You have built trust with me, so I will give my best and stay here for a long time" is the backbone of the holy grail all organizations seek, better employee engagement and retention. 

3 Real-Life Ways Supervisors Break Trust and Reduce Engagement 

How do bad supervisors break trust? The obvious ways are by commission, things they actively do such as tell lies, break confidences, and unjustly favor one employee over another. But many bad supervisors also break trust by omission, by failing to do things good supervisors do. And too often these supervisors fail to do these behaviors unintentionally, with no knowledge they are losing their team's trust in the process. Here are the top 3 ways that bad supervisors unintentionally break trust: 

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.