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: Maintaining Long-term Competitive Advantage During Market Uncertainty
While the USA is preoccupied with the looming Presidential Election, here in the UK even Donald Trump cannot drown out the gloomy news of the day. Brexit, a tumbling pound and stock market uncertainty are creating some challenging conditions for British businesses. Indeed, just this week The Independent reported that both Citi and Morgan Stanley are already contemplating a move out of London, if the UK government does head towards a so-called ‘hard Brexit.’
For sure, there are some short-term benefits for exporters, and this period may bring about a necessary levelling in currency values and the markets. But that doesn’t take away the immediate challenges many organisations are facing. In such uncertain times, how can you sustain and develop competitive advantage?
The evidence (published in the Engaged for Success ‘Nailing The Evidence’ Report in 2012) is clear and widely accepted: that keeping the workforce engaged makes an immense difference to every organisation’s performance. Indeed, Hay Group showed that 94% of the world’s most admired companies believe their efforts to engage their employees have given them a competitive advantage.
Engage For Success’s ground-breaking research identified that high performing organisations typically involve, listen to, and invite their employees to share their experience, expertise and ideas on a regular basis. They summarised their findings as the ‘four enablers’ of employee engagement:
Each enabler is important in its own right, but we observe two things about them:
- none of them stands effectively alone; and
- that Employee Voice essentially runs through all of them.
Thus, there can be no strategic narrative without an understanding of the people; no manager can be engaging without talking with (and listening to) the team; and integrity is a two way street, being both earned and given. Engaging seriously with Employee Voice can create competitive advantage, because as managers at all levels in the organisation (both locally and corporately) begin to listen, so general engagement levels rise. And this has an impact at both a business and a personal level. Here are just some examples (download the full report for more – no registration required).
Effect on Profit
- Sainsbury’s Engagement had a positive and significant impact on sales growth with the level of engagement contributing up to 15% of a store’s year-on-year growth.
- Dorothy Perkins found that environments with high engagement demonstrated 12% higher growth in sales, delivered 10% improvements in operating savings, and experienced 35% lower stock loss.
Effect on Customers
- NHS trusts with high engagement had lower standardised patient mortality rates, even when controlling for prior patient mortality, and these effects were of meaningful size. Patient mortality rates were approximately 2.5% lower in those trusts with high engagement levels than in those with medium engagement levels.
Effect on Productivity
- MORE TH>N call centres have shown that engaged people have 35% lower average wrap times (time between calls) than disengaged people. Engaged staff are able to talk to, on average, an additional 800 customers per year (based on an average call handling time of 365 seconds). Put another way, for every eight engaged people they employ they get the equivalent of an additional member of staff without any increase in the wage bill.
Effect on Retention
- In the Royal Bank of Scotland, business units in the bottom 10% ranked by employee engagement had almost twice the voluntary turnover rate in 2011 of those business units in the top 10%, at a cost of circa £650,000.
- Following the introduction of a new employee engagement programme, Nampak recorded a 5% increase in the number of strongly engaged employees. During the same period they recorded a 26% reduction in absence levels which they attributed to their employee engagement. In recognition, Nampak was named the People Management / CIPD Employee Engagement category & Overall winner in 2010.
So don’t just take our word for it! The evidence is clear, that organisations with engaged employees outperform the competition with lower engagement, on all fronts. And at times of uncertainty, market volatility and continuous change, using Employee Voice effectively to raise levels of engagement, across the organisation, is even more important in maintaining that competitive advantage.
Blog: Engage for Success Announcement
Last week saw the announcement of an interesting collaboration between Engage for Success (E4S) and the CIPD, with the latter set to become E4S’s prime sponsor in order to combine their voices, “to influence and support organisational thinking and practice to build more engaged, productive and aligned workforces.”
Many will recall E4S’s earliest impact along these lines with the publication in 2009 of their first research, Engaging for Success (David MacLeod and Nita Clarke), compiled to persuade Government, CEOs, and practitioners to take employee engagement seriously, and to begin applying its principles.
More government support for continued research followed in 2011, and yet E4S has ostensibly remained a not-for-profit, volunteer movement. Nevertheless its record and variety of achievements is impressive, with research being a clear hallmark of its work. Read more.
It’s time to move beyond engagement. Empower and align employees with organisational priorities to build a culture of high performance, well being and career satisfaction. To learn more, call 03450 523 593
Weber Shandwick Study: Digital Communications and Employee Engagement Top CCO Priorities
An interesting report in PR Weekly shows that among global Chief Communications Officers (CCOs), employee engagement is one of the two top priorities.
The report says that researchers found it striking and telling that employee engagement is now top of mind for many CCOs. George Jamison, head of corporate comms and IR business at Spencer Stuart, said this may be a “side-effect of the fact employees have a louder voice now more than ever.”
It’s great news to see that Employee Voice is being taken seriously, and having an impact in organisations around the world.
Do Employees Really Know What’s Expected of Them?
Only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged. Gallup’s latest meta-analysis, however, shows that business units in the top quartile of employee engagement are 21% more profitable, are 17% more productive, have 10% better customer ratings, experience 41% less absenteeism and suffer 70% fewer safety incidents compared with business units in the bottom quartile.
Gallup research suggests that setting clear expectations may be the most foundational element. Only about half of all workers strongly indicate that they know what is expected of them at work. Those who lack clear expectations and spend too much time working on the wrong things can’t advance key initiatives to create value for an organization.
The desire for clear expectations is a shared need across generations, from millennials to traditionalists. All workers, regardless of age or stage in their career, want to know what’s expected of them in the workplace. And the lack of clear expectations can cause anxiety and confusion in workers.
Across all generations, individuals who strongly agree that their manager helps them set performance goals are nearly eight times more likely to be engaged than if they strongly disagree with the statement. When setting expectations, leaders and managers should ensure they are:
- Developed collaboratively
- Articulated clearly.
- Aimed at excellence.
- Individualized to strengths
Go to Gallup to read the full article.
Employee Voice: Listen, Analyse, and Act
Employees no longer just want to be heard; they want to play an active role in shaping their workplace on an ongoing basis. They want a voice in determining what actions are taken, when, and by whom—and they want to see results.
Changing the Conversation
Traditionally, organizations have gathered feedback through a point-in-time annual census, where employees share feedback, discuss pain points, and suggest changes. From there, managers review their results and make decisions on what practices to change or new ideas to implement—but as we all know, ongoing follow-up on action plans can be difficult to maintain. In today’s always-on society, and with the technology at our disposal, this approach can easily be evolved into one that is more continuous in nature and more effective at driving actions [Going to Engage for Success’s Conference next week? You’ll hear much more from IBM Kenexa, Employee Voice – Ed].
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