August 6, 2012

Congratulations on Your Engagement!

World-class organizations with a high engagement ratio, of 8:1, have built a sustainable model that allows them to innovate and build brands people love to be part of. So, congratualtions! You and your team are engaged. You have ‘proposed’. You both have agreed what you want to accomplish together and you are committed to this realationship for the long haul. 

No exactly in these words? Just because companies give employees written contracts doesn’t mean they consider themselves engaged. The relationship to them could be just one of passively sharing daily experience, like taking the same train. Everyone plays by the same general rules but nobody cares about the train, or whether it will be the same train the next day, or the same people on it. Employment contract is not enough – it’s just a ticket to ride. The only thing that unites these random strangers is dissent when things go wrong. Simply they have expectations but minimum commitment.

Engagement is a clearly spoken promise and mutual commitment. There are no free rides in a relationship. Engagement is a mutual understanding of a caring, purposeful and equitably shared commitment of a long term journey. They still may  want to move onto a different stage in lifeone day but the role of a Leader is to ensure that they don’t get swept off their feet by a better offer. What is important is that the relationship is based on mutual respect and meeting mutual needs. And, you may need to work hard on understanding those needs.

Why should you care?

According to the recent research by Gallup actively disengaged employees erode an organization’s bottom line while breaking the spirits of colleagues in the process.

Gallup estimates that within the U.S. workforce this cost to be more than $300 billion in lost productivity alone. You may be familiar with the ‘go slow’ mentality? People seem to play by the rules, but rules can be interpreted, and following them to the letter may be as damaging as breaking them.

In stark contrast, world-class organizations with an engagement ratio near 8:1 have built a sustainable model that allows them to innovate and build brands people love to be part of. The world’s top-performing organizations understand that employee engagement is a force that drives performance outcomes. In the best organizations, engagement is more than a human resources initiative – it is a strategic foundation for the way they do business.

Research by Gallup and others clearly shows that engaged employees are more productive. Employees who are “engaged,” are involved in and enthusiastic about their work and are actively contributing to their organizations in a positive manner. They are more profitable, more customer-focused, safer, and more likely to withstand temptations to leave – a significant cost saving in itself. The best-performing companies know that an employee engagement improvement strategy is linked to the achievement of corporate goals will help them win in the marketplace.

So, how do we get there?

Before I answer this question, it’s important to look at Gallup’s research findings. The table below indicates that the three top criteria – unofficially of course – for hiring by ‘leading’ businesses, favour the least engaged employees: 1) people with higher education, 2) the most coveted age group, people in their prime 30-45, and 3) men.

3 Easy Steps:

Based on InnoFuture’s extensive research and our personal experience in cultural transformation of a major national brand, here are 3 easy steps to take:

  1. Have and communicate shared vision – show them the exciting future you can have together;
  2. Give them an opportunity to make the right decisions – provide them with clear guidelines so that they can easily make the right decisions and enjoy the personal growth and satisfaction from the ownership of their contributions;
  3. Give them tools and means to be creative – the more educated people are, the higher they are on the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; their satisfaction and involvement is proportionate to the opportunities for self-fulfillment; but even the best talents and teams need some new tools and coaching to achieve their full potential.

These steps can be easily implemented without major disruptions or costs. You probably already have what it takes or at least, and, with a little help, you can start building a culture of engagement, productivity and innovation.

And, secondly, these measures can be even applied to your department or your close circle of influence first.

By Margaret Manson | Chief Inspirator | InnoFuture

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