Category Archives: engagement statistics

An Employee Engagement Six Pack (MMP #22)

Employee Engagement: Monday Morning Percolator #22

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Are you flying with a six pack of employee engagement?

In this case, I don’t mean half a dozen beers.

The six essential instruments in a light aircraft are often referred to as the six pack:

  • airspeed indicator
  • attitude indicator
  • altimeter
  • turn coordinator
  • heading indicator
  • vertical speed indicator

Do you monitor 6 strong “indications” of your employee engagement to get you successfully to your destination?

  1. Airspeed indicator – how fast can you move towards your goal?
  2. Attitude indicator – is everyone maintaining a strong and positive attitude and avoiding too much wobble?
  3. Altimeter – how high can you climb with fully engaged employees?
  4. Turn coordinator – are you responsive to change to turn back to employee engagement if you begin to drift off course? Can you feel exhilarated while making a steep turn?
  5. Heading indicator – do you stay vigilant about where you are headed?
  6. Vertical speed indicator – how quickly can you climb to new levels of employee engagement?

Grab a coffee, jump into the workplace cockpit, and prepare to take off with these indicators of employee engagement.

Of course, you could also grab a six pack of beer or root beer and have a down-to-earth discussion about employee engagement with the team of people you work with.

The Practice of Leadership – Employee Engagement (MMP #17)

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Employee Engagement: Monday Morning Percolator #17

Today, I have the honor of featuring George Ambler and his leadership blog. George Ambler writes an insightful leadership blog – The Practice of Leadership: It’s only in the practice of leadership that we influence our world…

He has written a number of excellent short articles on employee engagement.

George summarized a study from PeopleMetrics:

creating emotional connections to employees is what truly matters because this is where organizations can dramatically boost employee productivity and business outcomes….. Building an emotional bond with employees, … requires organizations to create a ‘sense of meaning and purpose’ among employees by connecting them to the ‘higher vision and purpose’ of the organization…. Equally, organizations need to build trust and confidence through regular dialogue with managers and senior leadership as well as celebrating successes, having fun and showing individual appreciation.

In addition, the study of 5,095 workers, across the United States found

  • that Fortune 500 companies in the lowest quartile in profitability had 50% fewer engaged employees compared to those in the top quartile.
  • high performing employees were twice as engaged as their lower performing counterparts

Kate Feather, PeopleMetrics Executive Vice President gave love and passion for one’s organization wings:

the concept of feeling love or pasion for one’s company is gaining ground because a passionately engaged workforce is becoming an important differentiator in the marketplace.

Get Engaged:

  1. Click here to read 5 of George Ambler’s other employee engagement blog posts. If you read the Monday Morning Percolator on Monday you could read one of George’s post every other day during the week.
  2. Make the connection with your employees and offer a valuable vision and purpose for the organization that they can connect with. Ask them to tell you what the vision and purpose is to see how well they understand what your organization is doing and why it is doing it.
  3. Maintain constant and never ending dialogue with the people you work with. Celebrate success, have fun and voice individual appreciation.

Picture credit: Zen rock garden Portland Oregon by http://flickr.com/photos/canuck01/128562559/

Credible makes it Edible: Employee Engagement MMP #14

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Employee Engagement: Monday Morning Percolator #14

The key concept from chapter four of  Made to Stick is to make your ideas “edible” by you and the idea being credible.  Employees will bite into employee engagement when they trust the message and the messenger. As a leader you need to establish and leverage trust in the name of employee engagement.

When you make your ideas tangible and concrete they become more real and more believable. A lot of credibility is in the details or story you tell — so do not neglect the vivid and specific “d-tale” of engagement.

Three specific tips in the chapter include:

  • Make statistics accessible.
  • Find a powerful example
  • Get a testable credential.

There are many statistics on employee engagement ranging from overall levels of engagement to the costs of disengagement. Find a way to communicate this to employees in a way that they can readily grasp.

Here is an example taken from a poll of 23,000 employees cited in Stephen Covey’s, The 8th Habit:

  1. Only 37 percent said they have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve and why.
  2. Only 20 percent were enthusiastic about their team’s and their organization’s goals; said they have a clear link between their tasks and their team’s organizational goals; and, fully trusted the organization they worked for.
  3. Only 15 percept felt that their organization fully enables them to execute key goals

Stephen Covey made the idea sticky by using this soccer analogy:

If a soccer team had these same scores, only 4 of the 11 players on the field would know which goal is theirs. Only 2 of the 11 would care. Only 2 of the 11 would know what position they play and know exactly what they are supposed to do. And all but 2 players would, in some way, be competing against their own team members rather than the opponent.

With this analogy Covey makes you fully realize the impact of these numbers on teamwork in a specific and credible way.

When you speak about employee engagement find powerful examples that establish credibility. Use a testable credential. Have employees conduct an engagement experiment to see what the impact is for themselves, their performance, and their organization.

Get Perking:

  1. Whenever you cite employee engagement statistics find a schema or analogy that the listeners or reader will be able to relate to.
  2. Make a testable credential offer to employees about engagement that they can try out to determine their own level of engagement.
  3. Use the Sinatra test. In the song “New York, New York,” Frank sings, If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere. In employee engagement, this would mean finding a strongly disengaged team or department and igniting their engagement. If you can make employee engagement work with the disgruntled team you can make it work anywhere.

Picture Credit: England away by http://flickr.com/photos/atomicshed/175638710/

The sense and cents of employee engagement

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According to Shepell-fgi research group: Money not only isn’t everything – it isn’t the main thing when it comes to motivating employees.

How people are treated and how they view their managers have almost twice the impact on motivation and results compared to pay and benefits. Money does not appear to enhance productivity.

Rob Phillips, CEO of Shepell-fgi stated:

We all like some parts of our job more than others. But when overall engagement is low and when your staff prefer to not come in to work or aren’t performing at their full capacity, it costs the organization money – up to an average cost of $1.80 million for a company of 1,000 employees.

Employees want to have trust in senior management, be asked for their input, and have a clear say in decisions that affect their work.

Money is the employee engagement paradox: money is not a key driver of employee engagement for the employee yet it costs an organization great deals of money to have disengaged employees.

Get Engaged:

  1. Ensure you spend time not just money with employees. Work is as much about making sense as it is about making cents.

Photo Credit: The snail and the coin (Economy goes slow) by http://flickr.com/photos/mclau/

An Employee Disengagement Quiz: Monday Morning Percolator #8

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If you are a leader here is an important multiple choice question. Your answer may indicate the role you play in your employees’ level of disengagement.

As a manager, my interactions with employees surrounding their performance is the following:

a. who has time to talk with employees about this kind of stuff?

b. we talk about how to improve their weaknesses.

c. we talk about their strengths.

If you answered “c” the chance of your employees being actively disengaged is 1%.

In an interview about the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 for the Gallup Management Journal, Tom Rath discussed the strong link between a leader’s focus and employee engagement. Here were the 3 powerful conclusions from Gallup’s research on conversation, engagement, and strengths:

  1. If your manager primarily ignores you your chances of being actively disengaged are 40%
  2. If your manager focuses on your weaknesses your chances of being actively disengaged are 22%
  3. If you manager focuses on your strengths your chances of being actively disengaged are only 1%

Perk Up:

  1. You have only one task this week. Ensure that you talk with as many people, as much as possible, about thier strengths and performance. Use strengths to muscle out disengagement!

Picture Credit: Fore! By http://flickr.com/photos/ecstaticist/

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Generational Differences: A Bad Driver in Employee Engagement

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Nine and thirty-nine – from http://www.flickr.com/photos/emdot/

We often think people of different generations are bad drivers. Older drivers look at younger drivers in disdain while younger drivers think older drivers should get off the road.

Yet, when it comes to employee engagement Watson Wyatt just released data to suggest that different generations share the same engagement drivers and that generational differences in drivers of engagement are not as wide as perceived.

The #1 driver of employee engagement for all ages was strategic direction and leadership. The only exception was employees between 30-39 who believed that rewards (pay & benefits) was the #1 driver. This generation rated strategic direction / leadership as the #2 driver while all the other generations rated rewards as the #2 driver.

Communication was a part of the #3 driver for all the generations. The different generations in the workplace from under 30 to over 60 and all the ages in between rated leadership, rewards, and communication as the key drivers of engagement.

Debra Horsfield from Watson Wyatt concluded: “employers should avoid an emphasis on labels and instead focus on commonalities in what motivates employees.”

This makes intuitive sense to me because even though I am 52, my three teenagers listen to the same rock music as me. At times, we seem worlds apart but often we share so much in common.

I think we often overestimate generational differences at the neglect of commonalities. If you want to read an informative book on generational influences at work I highly recommend Jennifer J. Deal’s book discussing the research on the common ground between the young and old, Retiring the Generation Gap.

Here were the 10 key principles she developed in her book:

  1. All generations have similar values; They just express them differently
  2. Everyone wants respect: They just don’t define it the same way
  3. Trust matters
  4. People want leaders who are credible and trustworthy
  5. Organizational politics is a problem — No matter how old (or young) you are
  6. No one really likes change
  7. Loyalty depends on the context, not on the generation
  8. It’s as easy to retain a young person as an older one — If you do the right things
  9. Everyone wants to learn — More than just about anything else
  10. Almost everyone wants a coach.

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Zinger’s Employee Engagement Rant (Part 1)

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Part 1: Lies, damn lies, and statistics

I’m angry, even a bit ticked off.  If you read my blogs you know that I seldom if ever rant. But I am ticked off at all the measurement of employee engagement where employees tick off measurement boxes in private, an outside company collates all the measurement, and the organization receives general results and recommendations from someone not directly involved in the organization’s engagement.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not against measurement I just don’t believe that anonymous and confidential surveys really address or respond to employee engagement.

Too often the central issues in measuring employee engagement seems research and statistical centered: private, confidential, reliable, valid, and with statistical significance. After much cost, and use of employees’ precious time, impressive numbers are generated and the lofty conclusion: more research is required.

Yet in a recent meta-analysis by the Conference Board – the central conclusion in study after study that involved millions of employees around the world, was that it was the employee’s relationship with their direct leader that was the single biggest driver of employee engagement.

If we know that, why do we persist in these large scale anonymous studies? How does it help to get a measurement of overall organizational engagement without employees talking directly with each other and their leaders?

Couragous Measurement

I advocate a new measurement method in employee engagement: courageous measurement. In courageous measurement leaders and employees work together, the results are transparent, and everyone is accountable for improving engagement – employees, leaders, and the organization.  Employees have the courage to genuinely rate and voice how engaged they are, leaders have the courage to do this for themselves, and leaders are courageous to hear what is said followed by the gumption to make changes to enhance engagement.

In Part 2 of my rant, I will offer a connected and genuine response to measurement that naturally leads to intervention and action. What good is a rant without an equally relevant response that addresses the nature of the rant?

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Get Engaged:

  1. If you are a leader, sit down with employees and discuss their engagement. Keep doing this again and again.
  2. When you encounter someone who is disengaged collaborate with them to rekindle their engagement. If engagement can’t be rekindled determine what changes need to occur.
  3. In Part 2 of this rant, I will provide a link to a down-to-earth assessment that can be used as the springboard to conversation and employee engagement conversion.

Employee Engagement: In the “Driver’s” Seat!

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The conference board published a report on “Employee Engagement: A Review of Current Research and its Implications.” Patricia Soldati summarized some of the work in a recent post at management-issues.

Looking at 12 different studies the report outlined 26 key drivers of engagement.

At least 4 of the studies agreed on these 8 drivers:

  1. Trust and integrity
  2. Nature of the job
  3. Employee understands how their work contributes to the organization’s performance
  4. Career growth opportunities
  5. Pride about the organization
  6. Relationships with coworkers and team members
  7. Employee development
  8. Relationship with one’s manager

The number 1 driver regardless of age, location or study was the direct relationship with one’s manager.

Hertz had an old slogan about putting you in the driver’s seat but it appears it is the manager or leader who really drives engagement for the organization and the individuals who report to him or her!

The conference board defined employee engagement as

A heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work.

High levels of engagement influence organization performance and enhance retention, productivity, customer service and loyalty. Highly engaged employees outperform their disengaged counterparts by 20 to 28 per cent.

Get Engaged:

  1. If you are a leader, get behind the wheel and start driving engagement by connecting strongly with the people who report to you.
  2. Become a back seat driver – have a conversation with your leader to ensure she or he is steering you and the organization in the direction of higher employee engagement.

Employee Engagement: The Magnificent 7

A  report last year identified seven indicators of employee engagement. 

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 The independent study, conducted by WarrenShepell and Canadian HR Reporter, surveyed more than 300 organizational leaders across Canada.  There were strong links between the presence of seven top job and workplace factors and positive employee mental health, a lower rate of turnover, and satisfaction.

The following list shows the 7 factors and the relative presence of each factor in Canadian workplaces:

  1. Trust senior management — 37%

  2. Asked for their ideas and opinions on important matters — under 50%

  3. Clearly understand the organization’s vision and strategic direction — 33%

  4. Trust their supervisors — 42%

  5. Receive recognition and praise for good work — under 50%

  6. Have a clear say in decisions that affect their work — 34%

  7. Perceive their supervisors as caring and considerate of their well-being — 45%

Not one of the results was above 50%. We obviously have a lot of room for improvement in the 7 during 2007. According to Rod Phillips,  president and CEO of WarrenShepell,  “while business leaders may recognize the importance of the top seven factors there is still a large gap between what employees need and what is being provided in Canadian workplaces.”

Get engaged:

  1. How can you contribute to growth in these numbers in your workplace?

  2. How do you address the issues around the lack of trust?

  3. Click here to read a basic Wikipedia entry on trust.

Engagement by the numbers

Jack Welch believes the best picture of a company’s well-being comes from, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. By the way, cash flow comes third. Jack believes that employee engagement is perhaps the most telling indicator of competitive advantage.

Here are some statistics from ISR, a Chicago firm that studied engagement of 664,000 employees from 71 companies around the world.

  • 52% difference in one-year performance improvement in operating income between companies with highly engaged employees compared to companies with low engagement.
  • Operating income was up 19.2 percent in high engaged companies versus a decline of 32.7 percent in low engaged companies.
  •  There was a 13.2 percent improvement in net income growth over a one-year period for companies with high employee engagement.
  • There was a 27.8 percent improvement in EPS growth in companies with high engagement.
  • Read more about the research in the October 10th. Chief Executive.

Get Engaged:

  1. What are your engagement numbers?
  2. Do you stand “Tall” like Howard Schultz of Starbucks who was more interested in creating the right work environment for employees than the price of coffee.

Engagement Chronicle: Work as Divorce American Style

Here are some key points from today’s press release from VIP Innovations as reported in Yahoo News.

Shocking disengagement. According to Eva Jenkins, the increasing number of American workers who are divorced from their jobs and completely disengaged from their work is shocking. More than that, it’s costing businesses a fortune in lost productivity and revenue.

Bad managers/Poor training. The report puts the blame on human resource managers stating that disengaged workers aren’t born that way but are created by ineffective, badly trained managers.

22 million. This resonates with the Gallup Management Journal’s semi-annual Employee Engagement Index reports that 54% of employees are not engaged, and 17% are actively disengaged at work and only 29% are actively engaged. Disengagement can be seen in employee absence, illness, and a variety of other big and small problems that occur when people are unhappy at work. This translates to 22 million actively disengaged workers in the United States.

According to Jenkins,

This is an urgent problem and businesses that don’t address their own role in the problem are doomed. Companies don’t realize how important it is to give their managers the tools and training they need to do their jobs, too.

Get Engaged

  • What do you believe are the sources of disengagement in your workplace?
  • What role does blame play in disengagement?
  • What are your responses to disengagement for yourself, the people you lead, and the organization?
  • If you are a manager, what tools do you need to enhance engagment?