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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: Does Your Organisation Have a ‘Vital Few’ and a ‘Trivial Many’?

In an article published last week on HRZone, it was proposed that the Pareto principle means that 80% of a company’s output is produced by 20% of its people – in other words, its top performers. I agree with much of the article, for example the need to recruit the right people (and retain them) and to use the right metrics and approaches to get the best from your top performers.

So why did I feel uneasy about what is being proposed?

The title “Talent retention: the vital few and trivial many” is what initially caught my attention. Do we really believe that those who don’t fall into the top 20% category of ‘talent’ or ‘top performer’ are ‘trivial’?

The premise of the title represents a fixed mind-set about developing, engaging and retaining staff: that is, most of our attention and resources must be channelled into retaining the ‘top talent.’ Of course, we must invest in engaging and retaining top talent, but it is a mistake to limit the primary investment to that group. Admittedly, the article suggests that more support staff could be hired to take on admin and release the talent to create more value; I would endorse that approach in principle, but what happens if no energy is given towards engaging and retaining those support staff? If they feel disenfranchised and leave, what has been gained?

The point here is that a fixed mind-set (focus only on the talent) is self-limiting. We believe that the organisations that truly excel will be the ones who hold a ‘growth mind-set’ in which all employees, whatever their position, are given appropriate opportunities to grow and develop.

Steve Short – Emenex


Beware the Risk of Employee Burnout

Many highly engaged employees are also exhausted and ready to leave their organisations, finds a study of 1,085 US workers co-authored by Dr Jochen Menges of Cambridge Judge Business School.

Underlining the danger of job burnout, this new study finds that many employees who are highly engaged in their work are also exhausted and ready to leave their organisations.

Whereas lack of engagement is commonly seen as leading to employee turnover due to boredom and disaffection, the study finds that companies in fact risk losing some of their most motivated and hard-working employees due to high stress and burnout – a symptom of the “darker side” of workplace engagement.

It is “concerning”, concludes the study by academics working in the US, UK and Germany, “that many engaged employees suffer of stress and burnout symptoms, which may be the beginning of a pathway leading into disengagement.”

Read more findings from this study here.


How To Address The Root Cause Of Your Employee Engagement Issues

Employee engagement is one of the most critical factors in an organization’s success. Without a motivated staff that’s excited about their work, you’ll find yourself with low performance, productivity and quality — and very high turnover.

Unfortunately, fostering engagement is easier said than done, and it’s even harder to turn engagement around when it’s in decline. The best thing a leader can do is get to the heart of the issues that are hurting engagement and attack the root cause.

Forbes asked members of its Coaches Council to share some strategies for solving employee engagement problems. Their best and comprehensive answers are here.


Bad Bosses are Making Britain’s Productivity Puzzle Worse

Mediocre management is often the product of a flawed business model

The Office, starring 21st-century Britain’s most cringe-making boss, David Brent, may have finished almost 15 years ago, but poor management, claims the Financial Times, is just as present in our lives today as it was back then. Bad bosses on TV are certainly amusing but the joke, in the end, is on us.

British management is part of our productivity problem. UK practices lag behind other leading economies such as the US, Canada, Japan, Germany and Sweden, and account for up to a third of the gap in productivity between companies and countries.

It is true that the vanguard of British business leaders are just as good as the best in the world. But the gap between the best and the rest remains large. What is more, managers, like drivers, tend to think they are better than average.  The article in full here.


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