New Rules to Increase Employee Engagement

engagement

Creating Engagement

With so much focus on engagement, you would think that the statistics would dramatically improve. Instead, most of the surveys show employees are not fully engaged. Why is this, and what can be done about it?

In a her book, Employee Confidence: The New Rules of Engagement, Karen J. Hewitt, argues that employee confidence and engagement are intertwined. The difference maker in engagement is confidence. I had a chance to catch up with her and talk about her new book and work.

 

“Disengagement isn’t the real problem – confidence is.” -Karen J. Hewitt

 

How to Thrive

What makes an organization thrive?

There is only one thing that makes an organization thrive, and that’s its people. It’s as simple as that. The moment your people stop feeling valued, or supported to achieve their potential, or communicated with, their engagement levels fall.  And when this happens, you’re not just looking at engagement problems, but problems with all the other things engagement drives, like quality, productivity and client satisfaction for example.

Even worse, the best employees leave, which inflates costs and blows a big hole in both productivity and the engagement levels of those who remain.

Clever business leaders put 80% of their efforts into their people, because they know that people are the key to everything else they are looking for. It sounds obvious I know, but most leaders do the opposite. They get so hung up on the numbers that they place a disproportionate amount of attention on them, to the detriment of their people.

As soon as they stop taking time to understand what their people need, disengagement is the natural outcome, and with disengagement, the all-important numbers either go downhill or don’t deliver what they could because employees aren’t operating to their potential.

 

“Coaching is transformational leadership in action.” -Karen J. Hewitt

 

Create an Engaged Culture

Engage Your Employees and Make the World A Better Place

make the world a better place

Change the World

Charitable giving programs are taking off as more and more organizations realize that social responsibility is important to customers, employees, and communities.

But how do you start one? And is it really possible to change the world one company at a time?

Alessandra Cavalluzzi is someone who has made an enormous impact creating these programs and encouraging others to start them. She currently oversees corporate giving and fundraising for a large company. Her new book, A Million Dollars in Change: How to Engage Your Employees, Attract Top Talent, and Make the World A Better Place.

I recently spoke with her about her passion for corporate giving.

 

“Great acts are made up of small deeds.” -Lao Tzu

 

Would you clarify the difference between charitable giving and a corporate social responsibility program?

Charitable giving and corporate social responsibility are often used interchangeably.  However, we’ll sometimes see articles and books describe them as being completely different animals.  The truth is, they are not exclusive of each other, but they are a little bit different. Charitable giving encompasses donations or grants made to a nonprofit organization.  If you’ve ever made a donation to fund cancer research, for instance, this is a form of charitable giving.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can include philanthropy, but these programs have other functions, too. A company might design a CSR program, for instance, to improve the well-being of its employees, the environment, and the community around it. A company with a CSR program might partner with a nonprofit to keep at-risk teens in school by enrolling them in training and educational programs. Companies with CSR programs encourage volunteerism, their employees volunteer their time and talent to help a local nonprofit.   It’s not uncommon for a company with a CSR program to reduce its carbon footprint by making changes like installing solar panels or energy efficient lighting, or doing away with Styrofoam in its packaging. All of these are examples of CSR.

The main thing to remember is that both charitable giving and corporate social responsibility are important.  A company doesn’t need to adopt one over the other.  Which term you use to describe your program will depend on whether you decide to go strictly with philanthropy, create a full CSR plan, or maybe even develop a hybrid—donations plus action.  It’s really up to the company.  The bottom line is, there is no “wrong way” to give.

 

3 Myths of Corporate Giving and CSR Programs

Find a Common Mission to Engage Employees

thread

Find a Common Mission, Vision and Purpose

Despite billions of dollars of investments, organizations around the globe see employee engagement stagnant at only 13%.

David Harder, author of The Workplace Engagement Solution: Find a Common Mission, Vision, and Purpose With All of Today’s Employees, believes that CEO’s can successfully awaken the culture, and that you can create an enthusiastic culture and loyal customers. David is the founder of Inspired Work. Over 42,000 participants have engaged in his program to change careers, become better leaders, and launch businesses.

I asked him about his engagement ideas.

 

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” -Socrates

 

What are some of the characteristics of a culture that it truly “engaged”?

An engaged culture promotes continuous learning so that employees are not only growing, they are staying ahead of change. Even better, they are bringing positive change into the organization.

An engaged CEO or business owner leads an engaged culture. If she or he is disengaged from the culture, the employee population will also be disengaged.

An engaged culture recognizes that everyone walks in the door with various sets of life skills. Therefore, the organization makes sure everyone has the necessary life skills to change and engage. These include sales, presentations skills, the ability to influence, and clarity in how to build a vitally effective support system.

Self-reflection is encouraged in a strongly engaged culture. At Cornerstone on Demand, executives routinely ask questions such as, “What’s your next move?” “Where are you going next?”  After seven years employees are given a sabbatical for self-reflection. The point is, we cannot have engagement without a connection to one’s own truth. We have proven this thousands of times in our programs, which are question driven.

 

“More than 80% of America’s workers don’t like what they do for a living.” –David Harder

 

I’ve featured many people on this site talking about the problem of engagement. The stats are remarkable. We didn’t have sophisticated surveys years ago. Do you think this is a new phenomenon?

In the scheme of things, surveys are a bit old-school. The problem with surveys is they don’t produce change. Unless there is a solid commitment to produce an engaged culture, they often create more harm than good.

My point in The Workplace Engagement Solution: Find a Common Mission, Vision, and Purpose With All of Today’s Employees is that the majority of workers are checked-out, to various degrees. Getting them back requires a visionary commitment from the leadership but it also requires that we teach people how to change and engage. Notice that I rarely use one work without the other. Right now, according to a recent New York Times study, 48% of Americans view themselves as “underemployed.”  This is also a staggering number and yet it is reflective of workers at odds with keeping up with change.

 

Gallup: Only 13% of the world’s workers are engaged.

 

The Importance of Mission

Leading the Malcolm Baldrige Way for Exceptional Results

Align Your Organization to Create Exceptional Results

 

How do leaders align and engage a workforce in the midst of uncertainty?

 

Authors Kay Kendall and Glenn Bodinson are expert Baldrige coaches. They studied more than two dozen organizations that delivered exceptional results following the Baldrige Criteria, key principles derived and championed by Malcolm Baldrige in the mid-1980s to improve productivity and competitiveness. Their research was supplemented by talking with more than fifty CEOs to gain insights on performance excellence. I recently asked them about their work and their new book, Leading the Malcolm Baldrige Way.

 

Disengaged workers have 37% higher absenteeism.

 

What do readers, who may not know Malcolm Baldrige, need to know before picking up your book? How will studying the Malcolm Baldrige Way help business leaders?

Malcolm Baldrige was a very successful businessman before Ronald Reagan tapped him to be Secretary of Commerce.  He was deeply concerned about the future of manufacturing in America.  At that time, the 80s, Japan was dominating in the automotive and electronics manufacturing industries.  Both of those industries – and others in America – were being plagued by poor quality, and consumers were making choices to go with Japanese products.  Secretary Baldrige championed an effort to establish a presidential award based on rigorous standards that would recognize manufacturing and service organizations that achieved high levels of performance.  After Baldrige’s untimely death, President Reagan decided to honor his friend with what became known as the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.  Studying Leading the Malcolm Baldrige Way will help business leaders in any industry, in any situation – flourishing or in peril – learn how to align their employees to deliver exceptional results.

 

Why Engagement Matters

To those who think culture is soft, what statistics can you share that demonstrate engagement matters?

Leading the Malcolm Baldrige WayOne study showed that companies with high levels of employee engagement have five times higher shareholder returns over five years.  There is also clear evidence that engaged employees create loyal customers.  If that isn’t compelling, consider the flip-side of engagement.  Statistics from a recent article in Harvard Business Review cited, “Disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors and defects.  In organizations with low employee engagement scores, they experienced 18% lower productivity, 16% lower profitability, 37% lower job growth, and 65% lower share price over time.” Those are staggering costs for organizations.

 

 

Engagement is the rage these days in leadership circles, yet still many leaders don’t work on engagement. Why is this?

Honestly, we don’t understand it.  The evidence that engagement matters and impacts bottom-line results is clear.   There is also the notion that treating employees as valued assets is what leaders as decent human beings ought to do.  In the latest recession, we saw a lot of leaders with an attitude of “My employees should be grateful just to have a job.”  As the economy picked up, we saw many employees jump ship as soon as there were opportunities to work for an organization with a better culture, where they were treated as valuable contributors to the mission and vision.

 

Research: Companies with engaged workers report 6% higher profits.

 

Don’t Make Excuses

Why Employees Are Unengaged

The True Impact of Employee Engagement

 

There’s one phrase that often goes unheard in the workplace, yet has a huge impact on a company’s success: employee engagement.

Most business leaders have the mentality that they’re responsible for providing work; employees are responsible for getting it done. Under this logic, it’s up to the employees to motivate themselves day in and day out.

However, it’s practically impossible to stay motivated in an unsupportive environment (which is probably why 70% workers are disengaged from their jobs).

 

Fact: 70% of workers are disengaged from their jobs.

 

Disengagement is a defense mechanism. Employees distract themselves from what makes them unhappy (work) with other things they deem more fulfilling, like looking for new jobs, talking to friends, or watching funny cat videos.

 

“When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” –Simon Sinek

 

This helpful illustration from Company Folders provides an eye-opening look at just how low employee engagement could be affecting you. (In the U.S. alone, companies could save up to $350 billion a year through increased employee engagement.)

Read on to learn what’s causing employees to disengage and how you can help them get back on track.

 

“To win in the workplace you must first win in the workplace.” –Doug Conant