Companies with a highly engaged workforce have 26% higher revenue per employee, according to a WorkUSA survey of over 13,000 respondents. This survey’s analysts linked engagement scores with business measures. Those measures may include sales, customer satisfaction, profit, absenteeism and turnover.
There are many definitions for engaged employees. This survey defined engagement as the combination of commitment and line of sight. Committed employees are proud to work for their companies and motivated to help drive success. Line of sight refers to the focus and direction that guides employee efforts. These employees can see how their efforts contribute to the company’s success.
Engaged employees are twice as likely to be top performers, miss fewer days due to illness and are more resilient with respect to organizational change. Employees who are engaged are easier to retain because they feel aligned and identify themselves with the company.
However, engaged employees do resign. The primary reason these employees leave is stress. It’s interesting to note, stress is also the number one reason employees who are not engaged leave. The difference is highly engaged employees are stressed due to obstacles that prevent them from working effectively. Those who are not engaged are stressed by lack of confidence in the company’s direction and poor perceptions of management.
Lessons to learn include teaching managers to remove obstacles, to discuss overall business strategies and goals and to connect the dots between an employee’s contribution and the company’s vision. This requires having dialogues with employees to create a better understanding of their function and to discover obstacles that are interfering with the employee’s effectiveness.
Companies must have a strong performance management system in place that rewards high performers and addresses poor performers. Managers must give poor performers clear direction and frequent feedback to provide them the opportunity to succeed. Those who do not improve should not be permitted to continue performing at a sub par level.
Another lesson is Aesop’s goose that laid the golden egg rule of management. Avoid dumping higher expectations on the highly engaged employees. Though highly engaged employees out perform others and generally exceed expectations; it’s unrealistic to expect the top ten percent of the workforce to carry the weight of the company’s productivity goals. This technique is short-sighted and will likely disengage your top performers. It is recommended to increase the productivity expectations on the large middle of the workforce who are performing well, but may have more room for improvement than the top performers.
Managers who have integrity, who are predictable, fair, honest and reliable create an environment with a high level of trust. Managers must practice transparency, strive for fair solutions and model behavior that is aligned with the company’s values. Even with great managers, trust will be fleeting if the company does not have fair ground rules, competitive compensation and benefits and clarified expectations which are all effectively communicated.
When things are changing, employees need more communication and a clear sense of direction. Effective communication and decisive action from management keeps employees resilient. This resilience enables the company to manage the change.
Communication needs to flow from top down and from bottom up. Managers who are trained to encourage differing viewpoints and can celebrate success that resulted from dissenting views will encourage a bottom up stream of information.
Surveying employees’ attitudes and opinions are a common method for gathering bottom up information. To measure engagement, the survey should focus on the impact engagement will have. In retail, questions are about customer satisfaction. For instance, “Customer issues are resolved quickly.”
Once results are received, management should seek more feedback from the employees to clarify the results and make recommendations to improve performance. Acting on employee feedback demonstrates trust in employees. That trust reinforces engagement.
Exempt, Non-Exempt, Exempt
Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives were determined to be non-exempt when the Department of Labor (DOL) took the position to make a sale required a transfer of title to the customer . These sales reps were simply getting vague commitments from physicians to prescribe certain pharmaceuticals.
The Supreme Court recently overturned the DOL’s position in a 5-4 decision, Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham, Corp.
Lafe Solomon Writes Again
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued its third memorandum to clarify how social media is impacted by employees’ right to concerted activity. Lafe Solomon, General Counsel for the NLRB deemed several provisions of social media policies unlawful.
Restricting confidential information from being shared was seen as too broad and may include an employee’s own terms and conditions of employment. Encouraging employees to discuss grievances internally rather than on social media had a chilling effect, as did staying away from controversial topics. Employers cannot restrict social media comments to non-public forums, including pending litigation or other matters which may negatively affect the image of the company. Using the expression, “think carefully before posting” was considered overly broad and result in limiting communication with coworkers.
Note: Administrative guidance may not hold up in court as in the Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham case.