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TalentCulture | March 3, 2015

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Employee Engagement: Is There a Strategic Advantage?

Employee Engagement: Is There a Strategic Advantage?
Nancy Rubin
  • On March 31, 2014
Nancy Rubin
March 31, 2014

According to a recent Gallup study, worldwide, only 13% of employees are engaged at work. In a 142-country study on the State of the Global Workplace, that amounts to about one in eight workers — roughly 180 million employees in the countries studied — are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations.

Companies that understand the value of employee engagement know that motivating high performance and aligning talent with business strategy requires getting to the heart of what matters to employees. Employee engagement is largely about social connections happening in organizations and aligning work experiences with employees’ cultural needs.

How do the best places to work succeed at employee engagement?

  • They understand what employees are thinking.
  • They create an intentional culture.
  • They demonstrate appreciation for contributions big and small.
  • They commit to open, honest communication.
  • They support career path development.
  • They engage in social interactions outside work.
  • They know how to communicate the organization’s stories.

Rob Markey, coauthor of the book, The Ultimate Question 2.0: How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World, believes he knows the Four Secrets to Employee Engagement.

Direct supervisors who set their teams up for success, observe them in action, ask for feedback, identify the root causes of employee concerns, and then follow through with meaningful improvements have happier, more engaged employees.

Bain & Company and Netsurvey analyzed responses from 200,000 employees across 40 companies in 60 countries and found that organizations that invest heavily in creating a culture of employee engagement have the following characteristics:

  • Line supervisors, not HR, lead the charge. It’s difficult for employees to be truly engaged if they don’t like or trust their bosses. Senior leaders must give supervisors the responsibility and authority to earn the enthusiasm, energy, and creativity that signal deep employee engagement.
  • Supervisors learn how to hold candid dialogues with teams.
  • They also do regular “pulse checks.” Short, frequent, and anonymous online surveys (as opposed to a long annual survey) give supervisors a better understanding of team dynamics and a sense of how the team believes customers’ experiences can be improved. What matters most, however, is not the metrics but the resulting dialogue.
  • Teams rally ‘round the customer. Companies that regularly earn high employee engagement tap that knowledge by asking employees how the company can earn more of their customers’ business and build the ranks of customer promoters. And they don’t just ask; they also listen hard to the answers, take action, and let their employees know about it.

Join the TalentCulture community this week to share your ideas on the topic of employee engagement. Radio show co-hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman will be joined by expert Kevin Kruse on Wednesday at 6:30 PM EST followed by the Twitter Chat at 7 PM.

photo credit: Laura Thykeson via photopin cc

  • Matt Schmidt

    In the book the Game Changer former Proctor and Gamble exec talks about how the team approach with innovation turned the company around. Employees believed in the company and its products. In return customers believed as well. Make employees an integral part of the process and positive results will emerge.

  • Khalid Raza

    Good read Nancy – thank you for sharing it along. I feel with so many employees who are not bothered about the organization, the plan has to be something which brings them together. The answer is Enterprise Social Network (ESN). But the ESN will allow you to break the invisible walls only if you allow it to, by empowering employees to be open without any fear. In IBM, we promote the culture of openness through Connections where employees engage, collaborate and learn from one another all the time. Read more:

    • Nancy Rubin

      Thanks for sharing. You both should join us tonight for the #TChat radio show at 6:30 and the Twitter chat at 7. The community would love to hear from you!

      • Khalid Raza

        share the details – I’d love to join (if my calendar does not kill me by then ;-))

        • Nancy Rubin

          Join #TChat this week: Wholehearted #Leadership For Employee Engagement Wed 6:30-8pmET #HR

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  • Tarik Taman

    Nancy, I’m sorry I missed the radio show and twitter chat on this important topic. What was the conclusion? It seems to me there must be a strategic advantage to engagement. I’d like to know what were the problems people encountered and how did they overcome them?

  • Nancy Rubin

    Tarik, it was a great chat (as always!) You can check out the recap here –

    The Storify is contained in the post so you can review what everyone said during the chat.

  • Jason D

    If you’re looking for a great, cost-effective employee engagement survey, check out Gallup’s new Q12 survey for groups of up to 5,000 employees. At only $15 per employee, the price can’t be beat. Great for small and medium sized businesses looking to grow their business or get an edge on the competition.