Adobe understands it. And Google, Apple, Microsoft. Airbnb does, too. LinkedIn, KPMG, Accenture, the San Diego Zoo—they all get it. Zappos, certainly. And these companies are paragons of it, according to Entrepreneur.
Companies who know this success secret tend to have quadruple the average profit and double the average revenue—even while being a quarter smaller than other organizations Jacob Morgan analyzed in this article for the Harvard Business Review.
If you’re a longtime reader of this blog, you’ve probably already guessed what this elusive alchemy is since we’ve written about it a lot before. That’s right—employee engagement.
But why is it so hard for companies to get right—even while pouring millions into trying to obtain it?
For starters, most companies are slapping a band-aid on a broken leg and calling it good. That’s not going to do it.
Many of the problems at organizations with poor engagement are systemic, and it takes a deep cultural shift to address the underlying causes of disengagement and build a more authentic, inspiring workplace.
For Morgan, this means creating an experiential organization with desirable cultural, technological, and physical environments.
Out of the 250+ organizations he studied, only 6% were intensely focused on all three—and they had the performance upswings to show it. He also found a correlation between investment in these areas and inclusion on “best of” lists. Further, these companies saw substantial gains in stock value.
On the flip side, a fifth of the companies analyzed scored very low on all three fronts, and employees ranked over 50% of the organizations poorly in one or more of these areas. This shows how far most companies have to go.
But where to begin? Andrew Sumitani of TINYpulse wrote The Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement to help managers take those crucial steps toward organizational transformation.
Sumitani starts by sharing this TED talk on employee motivation by Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely:
He documents the significant financial advantages enjoyed by companies with higher employee engagement—including as much as 18% higher revenue per employee. Combine greater profits with the enormous savings yielded from employee retention and less absenteeism, and you start to understand why experiential companies are raking in the bucks.
Sumitani outlines two strategies for boosting engagement:
- Create recognition programs that honor contributions. Don’t hand out token achievement awards for simply reaching milestones like working a certain number of years. Most will move on before reaching that five-year anniversary if you don’t have an appealing workplace. Instead, acknowledge employees for substantive accomplishments, innovative ideas, and other extraordinary behavior. This recognition should be highly personalized and spontaneous rather than generic and perfunctory. Lastly, establish peer recognition programs that give employees opportunities to honor co-workers, whose accomplishments may otherwise go under the radar of high-flying managers.
- Survey, survey, survey. If you want to know what matters to your employees, ask them. Don’t burden them with bloated surveys every year or so. Rather, short and frequent is the way to go here. Bolster trust and open communication by transparently sharing the data. Then do something with those results. Formulate an action plan to show you are not only listening but genuinely committed to responding to concerns.
Capiche Can Help
Are you ready to propel your company to the next level of engagement, productivity, and profit? We can help you conduct the organizational analysis, collect the data and implement the strategies that can turn your organization into the next paragon of employee engagement. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 541.601.0114 today.
I currently work for a good, ethical, patient-centered, forward-looking locally owned pharmacy/patient care type business but the management falls short. I was hired as a delivery driver, which I love but also because I have extensive healthcare experience. In our werkly meetings the boss comes in and shares his goals and insights but seldom asks for feedback from employees. I have a wealth of patient knowledge but he seems not to care about my contributions as if convinced his own thinking is leading edge, which it’s not. As a result I’ve become disengaged rather than try to break through his managerial shell.
That’s a real shame, Matt. And while I hate to say so, you are not alone in this predicament. What are your options at your current place of employment? At other places? My wish for you is to find a place where you feel you can make a difference and where your values match those of the organization.