Focusing on Employee Engagement, Increases Commitment, Productivity, Performance and Profitability
By: Mark Hordes
Mark Hordes Management Consultants LLC
713 416 1781
Even though 25 years of organizational research indicates that individual behaviors are “hard- wired” by the time employees enter the workforce, you can shift organizational behaviors to support employee enagement, Involvement, commitment, team development, alignment to the “business case for change” and strategic business objectives.
Follow These Four Steps:
1. Conduct a culture alignment assessment with all employees. Calibrating the current state of an organization’s culture is always a first step of an effective intervention process. As an example, determining the values, behaviors and personal work styles of an organization provides the needed data to define the size of the gap from “where your culture is today” and what is required to foster alignment in the future.
This assessment process also establishes the capability of tracking cultural shifts over time. Your management team will find this very helpful as they are asked to resource interventions and fund activities to reach an aligned cultural state.
2. Promote one leadership style to the workforce. As you can imagine, there are dozens of suggested leadership approaches being promoted by management consultants and theorists today. Everything from Situational Leadership, Participative Management and Leading from the Top. All of these example approaches have merit. The danger is when your leadership team sends managers to different leadership training events, and everyone comes back with their own approach.
It’s a fast way to create confusion for the workforce as they work for different leaders over time, each with a different leadership style. A best practice is to promote and leverage one particular leadership approach that you ask everyone to follow.
Creating a singular focused, company wide leadership approach that focuses on “Leading from Engagement,” as an example, utilizes the concept of mutual commitment as a lever to capture the “hearts and minds” of leaders and the workforce.
It is also important to utilize a leadership approach that instills positive mutual purpose and intent. Once these have been established, skills in active listening, decision-making through alignment, and utilizing challenge as a positive process, can create the level of leadership success you seek for your company.
3. Create a clear positive line of sight to reach alignment. Do we all agree? Does anyone not agree? Do we have consensus? Are we all aligned? Is anyone not alig
It's essential to teach individuals and teams how to be aligned and supportive with the decisions they make.
The secret lies in training and coaching everyone how to question effectively, listen actively and demonstrate open advocacy, while stressing authenticity and engagement.
Alignment comes about when we are clear as to how to gain alignment on the small steps that ultimately build into larger areas of agreement.
Having an effective prcessl to communicate and reach alignment within our team helps to make alignment a reality.
4. Train on how to distinguish assumptions/beliefs from facts. There’s a significant distinction between making false beliefs and assumptions and examining facts. Sometimes there are not enough facts to make an assumption about a situation that we’re faced with solving. In that case, we can only search for more facts, or in other cases, we may not safely assume anything based on the information provided.
This is a very challenging human behavior to change. People often jump to conclusions quickly based upon their cultural biases, personal history or current experience.
A lesson worth learning by helping employees to reach a higher level of “consciousness” as to the differences between assumptions and facts, and to know when more information is needed.
The benefits of this type of learning and insight can have broad and far-reaching implications as to how an organization works and how solutions are developed and implemented.
5. Engage Employees
How does engaging employees impact an organization's productivity and profitability?
Although the concept of employee engagement has been around for many years, it has taken on different forms, and people often refer to it by other names:
"Participation," "involvement" and "commitment" to describe a workplace culture that considers maximizing the talents of a work force for better job satisfaction and business performance.
The terms and strategies have changed as companies have come to better understand what employee engagement is and how to achieve it. Likewise, the objectives and tactics have evolved too.
Here are a few company examples that highlight employee engagement and commitment and its impact on performance.
At Procter & Gamble (P&G) the company employed strategies to build "employee commitment" within its paper products division and held that the high performance work system concept used in their manufacturing plants gave them a competitive edge.
This work system provided employees with a full-range of communication on work unit performance, included them in operational decision-making, and provided them with greatly broadened work roles and responsibilities.
Years later, David Swanson, P&G's Vice President of Manufacturing Operations, stated that their high commitment manufacturing plants were 30 to 40 percent more productive than their traditional counterparts.
In "Ideas the Welch Way: How Healthy is Your Company,” Business Week) General Electric asked CEO Jack Welch to identify the three best measures of a company's health. Welch cited employee engagement first, customer satisfaction second and free cash flow third.
All organizations are interested in tapping into their employees’ capabilities.
Effective leaders have learned that traditional or control leadership practices don't lead to high levels of performance. They have learned what is important isn't what your people do while you're supervising them but what they do when you are not there.
Effective leaders have also found that soft or laissez-faire practices do not produce consistently good results. What they found is that their organizations need leadership practices that promote accountability through "moments that matter" as an example, initiative taking and ownership of the work. It's also important that leaders communicate positive regard and respect to employees, that they appreciate and value subordinates' skills, knowledge and ideas.
Employee engagement by the numbers
Organizations that implement practices to increase employee engagement experience 30 to 50 percent improvement in productivity, cost and quality measures. Additionally, these organizations experience lower attrition than their counterparts do.
A study from Corporate Executive Board found increased engagement can result in up to an 87 percent drop in the desire to leave the organization.
Also, a national waste collection and recycling organization helped cut attrition by 63 percent in highly engaged work districts, as compared to lower engaged units for a savings of over $586,000 per year per district. Research by my firm in 2019 found that companies with high employee engagement achieved 15-22% percent higher results in operating margin, net profit margin, revenue growth and 25 percent greater earnings per share over lesser companies with lower employee engagement.
Other case examples
Caterpillar: in their Management Conference of International Public Management Association, Robert J. Vance shared the following results from employee engagement and commitment initiatives:
A European plant saved $8.8 million annually from decreased attrition, absenteeism and overtime. An Asian-Pacific plant experienced a 70 percent increase in output in less than four months.
A unionized plant decreased its break-even point by almost 50 percent in units per day and decreased grievances by 80 percent.
A start-up plant achieved a $2 million increase in profit and a 34 percent increase in highly satisfied customers.
21st Century employee engagement
With the potential for these types of results, many companies talk about engaging their employees as the means to performance improvement. Their strategies include activities that compel the company to reach out to employees as a way to involve them in the organization's work, but this is a misdirected effort.
The act of "involving" employees in this way doesn't correlate with improved organizational performance. Rather, the measure that does correlate with increased performance measures is the degree of an employee’s internal "commitment" to the organization and its work.
The best way to define employee engagement is the degree to which employee identify with the company along with their willingness and ability to contribute to the company's success.
It is also about how much employees put into discretionary effort into their work, in the form of extra time, brainpower and energy. It's a conscious choice an employee makes that includes rational (thoughtful planning), emotional (feeling and attachment) and behavioral (time and effort) components.
Therefore, "engagement" isn't something a company does with or to an employee; it's something an employee chooses to do. of their won free will.
In some ways, employee engagement is a revitalized way to define an old concept: a psychological contract where the organization invests emotionally in its workforce.
In exchange, employees make a similar emotional investment, pouring their discretionary effort into their work and delivering superior performance.
Since engagement is largely emotional, it requires meeting basic human needs in the workplace to support and sustain top performers. It also requires that the nature and design of the work itself, as a motivator, be considered as to whether it provides opportunities for achievement, recognition, challenge, responsibility and growth.
Ideas to increase your employee engagement
How can an organization influence the employees' choice to engage in the work setting? How can an organization create the type of environment that fosters this choice?
Leadership can positively affect the level of employee engagement in the following ways:
1. Increase communication using an unrelenting and disciplined approach, which is open/honest, two-way, using multiple methods.
2. Embrace employee growth and development with training opportunities, job design and career discussions.
3. Solicit feedback from others to create an environment that encourages conversational, constructive challenge.
4. Make it easy to take pride in work and accomplishments by providing best-practice work processes, tools and by removing barriers.
5. Offer appreciation and recognition that is personal, frequent and timely.
6. Set direction by creating a vision for your group, sharing it up/down and make it more than just goals. It should answer: Where are we heading? What type of organization do we intend to be? How do I fit in?
7. Get to know employees as people first, employees second.
8. Look for opportunities for employee involvement, create openings for their choice to engage.
9. Monitor the culture: Does it align with your vision? Make changes to foster engagement and high performance.
10. Share what is going to change as you embark on a transformation, but just as import, what will not change, too. This helps employees feel more secure and have the informaiton to control their future, predicability. Key learning in successful change management successes.
Employee engagement is a means to positively influence the productivity, performance and profitability of a business. Improve productivity, and you increase the bottom- line.
Like any good recipe for increased performance, having the right ingredients blended together, and kept in balance, yields a predictable performance outcome.
Determine your organizational cultural attributes, calculate and manage change, engage your employees and help your leaders foster a positive shift in organizational behavior. And your employees will choose to do more for the company as a committed partner in the process that will sustain the test of time!
Want to Improve Employee Engagement in your Organization?
*Connect with me, (Mark Hordes Management Consultants LLC) to discuss how we can work together to achieve this successful outcome.