Exclusive B21 Survey: Less Than One Company in Five Feels it Has Fully Engaged Employees

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A new survey from Business 21 Publishing shows that 83% of companies are unhappy with the overall engagement level of their workforce.

A new survey from Business 21 Publishing shows that 83% of companies are unhappy with the overall engagement level of their workforce. HR executives at one in five companies said that employee dis-engagement was causing severe morale problems.

Click here for full survey results on engaged performance.

The best companies out there, including the leaders in your industry, have cracked the code when it comes to engaging employees. That's why they're the industry leaders. In today's markets, human capital is the great differentiator, and the ability to inspire a workforce is management's greatest challenge.

Hay Group recently came up with compelling evidence that when employees are passionate about their work, productivity and profits will skyrocket. Examples:

At one multi-office professional firm, offices with engaged employees outperformed others by 25% or more in sales. After getting employees engaged in delivering better customer service, sales jumped 15% at test-market Saks Fifth Avenue department stores.

A reengagement initiative at a General Dynamics division cut attrition there from 20% to 2% in just three years. Even better, earnings and profits doubled.

Can you get from here to there – especially on the shoestring budget most of us have to cope with? Definitely. And you don’t need a fancy consulting firm to do it, either. Here’s where to begin.

Paint a clear picture:

Hay Group studies show employees “in the engine room” want to be part of something great, and to feel the company (and especially their immediate supervisor) cares about them as people.

Start by helping managers paint a clear picture of where the company is going, show each employee where they fit, and how their contribution matters.

This goes well beyond intoning lofty-sounding mission statements. You need to connect on an emotional level, so people feel better about their work, their role and how they are treated.

Set ‘line of sight’ goals

Direct “line of sight” goals to shoot for, such as faster response times or lower scrap rates, helps clarify each employee’s contribution. And they can serve as the basis for performance-based rewards.

At General Dynamics, graphic “learning maps” showed each employee clear links between his or her job and the company’s financial success. Example: Faster cycle time in engineering cut overhead, which allowed the company to bid more competitively and brought in more business at higher margins.

Involve employees

Asking employees for their input on ways to improve business processes or procedures is a key to building energy and excitement into the work they do.

Example: When a small Midwest manufacturer of medical equipment lost a key client on price, employees were asked, “What can we do to make us more competitive?” Employees came up with dozens of process improvements that, all told, sliced 30% off materials costs.

Reward performers

Performance-based rewards are an important component in building an engaged workforce. And line-of-sight goals for employees, workgroups and departments should make the task much easier.

But a supervisor who ignores good performance may be the biggest passion killer of all. Work with your managers so that they “catch people doing something right,” rather than focus relentlessly on finding errors and fixing blame.

Start with a pilot project

It takes time to get employees more fully engaged, or passionate about their work. In some cases it requires a top-down culture shift. But the payoffs can be enormous.

Best bet: Identify a single department, location or workgroup where generating passion and engagement will make a quantifiable difference in results.

Keep close tabs on the project with pre- and post-tests or analyses that you can use to win over management skeptics. Many of them may still cling to the idea that this is all way too “touchy-feely” for them.

Source: Hay Group

Click here for full survey results on engaged performance.

Upcoming audio conference: Learn more about engaged performance by attending an audio conference Business 21 Publishing will conduct on September 20, 2006 entitled "Engaged Performance: Motivate Employees and Maximize Commitment to Goals."

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Stephen Meyer
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