Every two weeks we bring you opinion, news and research on Employee Engagement, Leadership and Organisational Performance, along with some thoughts on practical workplace applications.

Editorial:  Great Expectations..?

The study and practice of employee engagement (an index of workplace perceptions that are consistently predictive of positive business outcomes [Gallup]) has progressed over recent years, moving from the measurement of employee satisfaction to ‘transactional engagement’ and now to ‘transformational engagement.’ Its importance to organisations has been thoroughly researched and documented, with clear evidence showing a direct correlation between the degree to which an employee is engaged at work and their productivity (amongst other things).

However, across the world, engagement levels still remain woefully low. Gallup’s 2016 research report provides some tough reading for the UK – only 8% of British employees, about one in 12, are “highly involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplaces. These employees psychologically “own” their work, helping move their organisations forward by driving performance and innovation. The bulk of employees in the U.K. – 73% -are classified as “not engaged,” meaning they are psychologically unattached and putting little energy or passion into their work. The remaining 19% are “actively disengaged,” resentful that their workplace needs aren’t being met and likely to be acting out their unhappiness on the job.”

And so to our ‘Great Expectations’: Aren’t we simply asking too much from people, expecting them to be more engaged at work? Is it worth the effort of trying to raise engagement levels from such a low base? Could an organisation’s energy be better spent elsewhere? Shouldn’t the focus be on the easier metrics of productivity, profitability and sustainability, on at least one of which most organisations depend for their survival?

I might buy that argument… except for the data from more than 82,000 business units in 73 countries across 49 industries that shows that units in the top quartile of engagement scores were 17% more productive and 21% more profitable than those in the bottom quartile. The evidence is clear: get employees engaged and those other measures will fall into line too.

Dickens’ famous novel Great Expectations, published in 1861, eventually shows that good triumphs over evil. Perhaps, with considerable effort by managers and strategic intention from senior leaders, we could see in British organisations that engagement triumphs; it is an aim worth fighting for.

Steve Short – Emenex

Blog: Why are High-Flyers Experiencing Such Turbulent Times?

I recently took advantage of a very competitively priced United Airlines flight to the US after their overbooking of flights ended up in a massive customer relations faux-pas.  You probably viewed the video of security staff dragging a paying customer off their flight in favour of one of their crew that they needed to have in a different location.

These ups and downs in airline fortunes create opportunities for passengers to shop around and find solutions that meet their needs.  However; it was clear to me that there are more serious underlying issues that United face.  United are not alone in these turbulent times however: the collapse of package-holiday provider Monarch Airlines has affected hundreds of thousands of customers and cast doubt over the future of its 2,100 staff.

While ‘macro-economic’ issues certainly have a huge impact on the delicately balanced finances of these airlines, it is the much more sensitive issues of employee engagement, retention and customer satisfaction, particularly in this highly volatile airspace, that ultimately makes or breaks an airline’s long term viability. It doesn’t take long to figure out how dissatisfied employees are as you sit on an airplane and experience the service of a crew that are disgruntled with their lot.  Read more.

Alistair Aitchison – Emenex

Richard Branson: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first.”

Richard Branson’s corporate philosophy that “People are our greatest asset,” was not just made to impress the workforce. He is of the opinion that employees should be given top-priority. And thus, he has created a non-hierarchical, egalitarian, family-like culture in all of companies, an environment in which people like to work and coming to work. A central point of the corporate philosophy is that Branson likes to preserve the entrepreneurial integrity within Virgin.

In this Virgin profile read how to Envision, to Empower and to Energise all add up to employee engagement – the Branson way!

Create The Right Environment To Develop Effective Leaders

As Donald Hatter travels around speaking at corporate functions, association meetings and conferences, the most requested topics continue to revolve around the subject of leadership. With the world becoming more competitive and more diverse, the focus on leadership understandably appears to be greater than in years past.

There are few things more damaging to a company, he claims, than taking a group of talented employees and having them report to an ineffective leader. Doing so negatively impacts employee engagement, morale and retention.  Too often, companies use the words “leader” and “manager” interchangeably. Companies obviously prefer for their managers/supervisors to be great leaders, but they must first understand that great leadership is about influence, not authority.

In this piece for inc.com he shares a few ideas that can help create an environment for developing more effective leaders in your organization.

What’s a Leader to Do When Employees Are Still Disengaged (Despite Best Efforts)?

Employee disengagement has reached epidemic levels and many companies are responding – but with less than resounding results.

They move slowly, shuffling feet, moaning, groaning, seeking to drain the life out of those around them.

Has the zombie apocalypse finally arrived?

Did your teenager just get up on Saturday morning?

Neither. That’s just the 70 percent of employees that are disengaged (according to Gallup polls) meandering around your workplace.

Here’s the thing, says author Scott Mautz. You can’t just build a wall to keep them out – they’re already inside, and leaders everywhere have to bring them back to the living. Many companies realise the crisis and engage in a number of employee engagement tactics, but recent research by Gallup helps illuminate why the efforts aren’t working.

In the case of revitalizing employee engagement, “good try” isn’t good enough – there are pitfalls to watch for.  Mautz tells us more here.

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