Tuesday, January 19, 2016

R-E-S-P-EC-T by Lance Boynton

What drives employee engagement?

In a word…RESPECT! 

Towers Watson, a leading human resource-consulting firm, recently compiled a top 10 list to explore this question. The top answer on the board; “Senior management is sincerely interested in employee well-being”.  In fact, the concept of respect for people was embedded in every single response in the survey. Including:

“Staff feels they have input into decision making in their work unit”,

“Organization encourages innovative thinking” and

“Good relationships with supervisors are reported”.

Employees are engaged when they feel valued. When their efforts are recognized and when they are encouraged to thrive. Engaged workers are natural innovators driving efficiency and continuous improvement. They demonstrate consistent levels of high performance and challenge others to work with mission and purpose.

So why is having an engaged workforce important, outside of the touchy-feely, Kum-Ba-Ya stuff? Employee engagement levels have a significant impact on an organization in three primary ways.

1. Culture. The corporate culture and core values shape the beliefs and behaviors of your organization. It defines the way in which you interact internally as well as with external customers and suppliers. Culture is a driving force in attracting and retaining top talent. Actively disengaged employees have an enormous negative impact on an organization’s current and potential talent pool. They are not only personally disenfranchised but they spread their poison to teammates and drive down overall moral.

2. Brand. An organization's brand is its bread and butter and often, the best ambassadors are its employees. Engaged staff members are brand advocates, actively and passively recruiting with pride and passion. What better why to differentiate your organization from the competition? Disengaged employees do just they opposite, often making off-hand comments to friends and family or express their discontentment on anonymous social media outlets. With a company’s reputation vital in attracting top talent, understanding the factors that influence your corporate brand is vital.

3. Finances. Gallup reported study findings were fully engaged employees return 120 percent of their salary in value where in contrast, disengaged employees costs organizations $3,400 in lost productivity for every $10,000 in paid salary. This costs the American economy up to $350 billion per year in lost productivity. These startling numbers should bring the financial aspects of employee engagement to the forefront. Imagine the financial windfall you could achieve by accomplishing with “4” what it takes your competitor “5” to do. Better yet, how much more value could you bring to your customer because you could do it better, faster, and cheaper. All because your leaders and organization put an emphasis on respect for people.

One of the best ways I have found to build trust and drive a high level of employee engagement is through the teaching and implementation of lean tools like A3, VSM, & Kaizen. These elements help empower the workforce while creating a robust framework to build trusting relationships. Referencing back to one of the core pillars of TPS, “respect, challenge and grow your people and partners” helps institute the foundation of engagement. Lean helps facilitate communication, ensures goal alignment and actively encourages, teaches and grows your employees.

Thinking, learning, growing, successful, organizations have one thing in common, at their core they have a solid foundation of engaged employees. Based on the findings of this survey, it is easy to conclude that employee engagement is directly linked to the element of respect, a concept that was not lost on the Queen of Soul.


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