Here’s why employee engagement should be a top 3 priority for company management.
1. Employee engagement has a direct, undeniable correlation to your bottom line: As I wrote in a previous blog, Harvard Business Review estimates the cost of disengaged employees to a large organization (probably similarly large to the one you work at) in the millions.
Ask your frontline managers this:
- How much would need to be done in terms of efficiency or productivity to earn even $100,000 more in their department?
- How long would it take to fix inefficiencies that would result in cost savings of that amount or more?
Ask your CFO this:
- Where can you shave off even $1M that wouldn’t correlate with massive layoffs that would immediately affect production and implementation capabilities?
- What technologies could we implement or services could we offer that could boost revenue by millions in one year?
All of a sudden, employee engagement starts to look pretty realistic in terms of a strategy to save money and ensure that the pipeline of talent is continually churning and developing.
2. We’re not even going to worry about reason number 2…because if saving millions and gaining more than 10% greater profitability than disengaged companies isn’t enough, then your business has bigger problems than employee engagement.
I want to explore a reason for a possible lack of engagement that successful companies can suffer from. There are other reasons, to be sure (employees feeling a lack of meaningfulness in their work; employees lacking training and development, and other reasons previously laid out), but this one is a factor of success rather than of failure.
Successful companies hire smart, talented, driven employees who know the mission and vision and what it takes to execute it. They’re your star performers, your leaders – but in a go-go-go culture, they’re also potentially the ones who are quickest to suffer from employee burnout.
Take this example from the New York Times about the fast-growing company Zynga (ever played Farmville on Facebook? it’s those guys). The culture of the organization is “an uncompromising, where employees are constantly measured and game designers are pushed to meet aggressive deadlines.” Is this necessarily bad?
Well, not if you’re someone who shares this mindset and is driven by analytics and incentives. The article says it plainly – “some staff members thrive in this environment, others find it crushing.”
Of course no corporate culture can appeal across the board, but in a system like this one, just one example, the danger is in alienating an incredibly talented workforce who may not be best motivated by the same things.
This is where strengths-based, differentiated employee development can make a huge difference. Daniel Pink has authored a great book on what motivates human beings (a fun and informative video presentation at the TED Conference sums it up nicely) and guess what…it isn’t money. So the kind of culture described above is almost assuredly going to result in disengaged employees.
By looking at a strengths-based system for meeting metrics and being incentivized, companies should be able to keep their best employees (all of their best employees).
Imagine if there was a left-brain approach to metrics that was quantifiable for a certain population of employees and a right-brain approach (also quantifiable) that could be employed for another subset of employees.
Or what about employees that could be incentivized in ways that corresponded with their behavioral tendencies (differentiating between those who preferred constantly shifting, on-the-fly flexibility vs. those who were more comfortable in a defined environment)?
It is a new way of looking at your best employees and how employee retention can start to happen in a more productive, positive way. It’s employee engagement for this kind of economy, where ensuring you’ve got the best people is just as important as holding on to them.