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Making the Case: Employee Engagement

Christopher Anbari

By Christopher Anbari, President & CEO Result Global

In 2007, according to Gallup lnc., American businesses incurred $350B in extra costs because all levels of employees were not fully engaged. Have you ever considered how much your company contributes to this phenomenal number? Is the current slow growth environment in any way attributable to lack of employee engagement? It sure is!  We innately impact each other with every move we make. Research shows that up to 25 percent of direct costs are related to disengaged employees. Complacency is not an option. Employers must challenge habits. Evoke change. Do things differently.

Employee Engagement -as defined by SegaVGibson, a leading HR consulting firm -occurs when employees know what to do and want to do it. The heart of the process is for both leaders and employees to act as partners in business growth. That means that not only the employees, but the leaders must participate. An employee or leader who “goes that extra step” on the job, even when no one is watching, is truly engaged.

As an employer, it’s critical that you consider your own involvement in the process. How is what you are doing serving the entity that you have committed your time and efforts to?   In this increasingly challenging economic environment, business leaders have no other choice than to courageously and honestly assess the engagement of all their employees at all levels – including their own. They must be prepared to make audacious changes allowing their business not only to survive, but thrive.

To successfully engage employees, you must create a strategy that begins with validating employee performance needs, wants and obstacles.  You must also increase their discretionary contributions to compete and prosper in today’s ever increasing global competition.

The following example illustrates how disengaged employees can hamper and ultimately derail a process.

A Case for Disengaged Employees

A food company servicing 200 regional grocery chains engaged Result Global to design a program tying employee incentives to business net gains, replacing discretionary raises with an Economic Value Added Performance (EVAP) incentive program.

Two years before our arrival, a costly initiative was started to upgrade packaging.  Its goal: improve profits.  Many visible signs of performance indifference, distrust and hostility toward management were detected.  The company failed to communicate the benefits of the new system to the employees, even overlooking the announcement that the new technology would not eliminate any jobs.  In addition, less than 10 percent of the overall investment was spent on training.

There was disengagement on both the side of the union leadership and the employees, who were under the mistaken impression that the new technology would eliminate jobs. Another major problem was that the new technology program did not assess or validate the employees’ needs, wants, opinions and training challenges.  The human element of the new process was ignored.

We suggested including all employees and management in an opinion survey.  Utilizing our proprietary system STAR™ (Strategic and Tactical Assessment to Re-engage), we collected information from ten key business and operational areas:

  • Business Growth Strategy
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Communications
  • Organizational Collaboration
  • Information Technology
  • Diversity Management
  • Career Expectations
  • Rewards and incentives
  • Training and Development
  • Service Effectiveness

The assessment revealed issues that needed to be addressed, and together with management, we developed a long-range employee engagement strategy that involved all levels of the organization. The 24-month net result:

  • Created measurable performance scorecard for management
  • Initiated customized management training
  •  Reduced cost of services by 20 per cent due to sharp reduction in labor/management grievances
  • Improved customer service quality and loyalty
  • Increased annual earnings sharply

Although the nature of business is ever changing, the heart of employee engagement remains the same. The fundamentals include eliminating dysfunction and indifference, cultivating employees’ skill development as the core of business growth, and providing an organization that is a positive, supportive and progressive place to work.

The Center for Simplified Strategic Planning has teamed up with Result Global to offer solutions to your employees’ engagement issues.  If you would like to find out more about how we can tailor a program for your company, please click here.

© Copyright 2013 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution.