Much of what is written about employee engagement centers on metrics such as retention rate, turnover, employee satisfaction, loyalty, productivity and the like. These are quantifiable, measurable, readily extrapolated and analyzed for trends. The nature of outcomes is that they are dependent upon drivers, or causal factors which, in turn, influence or shape the numbers.
When it comes to engaging your workforce, there are three drivers I believe are particularly important. Remember the acronym “AIM”. They are:
First, it is important to understand that you can’t directly create retention. Prisons can do that. Your company can’t. So if you wish to reduce defection, you need to improve those aspects of your organization that will continually, consistently attract your employees. Many firms seek to attract new talent to their ranks, but fewer recognize the need to make that a dynamic facet of the workplace experience. An employee who is emotionally connected to the mission, vision, values that are demonstrated (not just published, but routinely evidenced by the acts of leadership) will be less likely to seek other, more potentially satisfying, alternative employment options.
Take a critical look at your workplace, from the viewpoint of the employees. Are they empowered to feel as if they are “the most valuable assets” of the company? Are their needs, desires and goals heard and respected up the organizational chain? Do they trust that leadership has their interests atop the strategic priorities? Is there opportunity for growth and development for all employees?
Next, consider how your organization inspires the associates and managers to deliver innovation, balanced with compliance and the need to perform the perfunctory aspects of their individual roles. It is estimated that 80% of the knowledge within your company is tacit, existing in the ranks of the employees but not formally harvested or broadly accessible. How do you inspire your employees to look beyond the existing paradigms, to chart improvements that leverage what they know, individually and collectively, to help shape the processes and protocols that define the broad limits of your growth? Some firms, such as Coca Cola, provide for a percentage of the work week where employees are encouraged to pursue ideas, in tandem with others across the company, which they believe will deliver a more positive future. The freedom and permission to think bigger than their day-to-day responsibilities is a source of inspiration to the employees.
Finally, the very essence of engagement as a measurable objective is to create, sustain and accelerate positive change…to lead the company and the market, rather than follow or try to catch up. If engagement is the antecedent, then mobilization most certainly is the consequent. Alignment around a consistent vision along with adoption of values across the organization, fueled by an inspired workforce and enlightened leadership, is what overcomes corporate inertia. In an ideal world, positive change begets positive change. In reality, positive change will only bring more positive change if the environment (culture, workplace factors, and leadership) and the broader market direction are evolving at compatible rates. That will be a subject of a future post.
In business as in life, you don’t get what you deserve. You get what you AIM for.