Thursday, December 22, 2005

Improving the Quality of Communications - Part 1

Employee Engagement at 14% Worldwide

Actually, I'll place a healthy bet that all bloggers and almost all blog readers are highly engaged. Let's face it, for you to search out pages like this one instead of takes some effort. But on to the point:

Towers Perrin recently completed what is arguably the broadest survey on employee engagement. Towers Perrin, November 15, 2005. “ Largest Single Study of the Workforce Worldwide Shows That Employee Engagement Levels Pose a Threat to Corporate Performance Globally.“ Retrieved December 11, 2005 from Results were released last month with the following highlights:

  • 84% of highly engaged employees believe they can positively impact the quality of their company’s products, compared with 31% of the disengaged.

  • 72% of the highly engaged believe they can positively affect customer service, versus 27% of the disengaged.

  • 68% of the highly engaged believe they can positively impact costs in their job or unit, versus 19% of the disengaged.ibid

Anita Bruzzese and Julie Gebauer from Towers Perrin have yet another definition for engagement:
Are you willing to go the extra mile for your employer? Are you so highly committed to seeing that your company does well that you'll put in whatever extra effort is required? ... ''Fully engaged employees have the desire and the capability and are willing to put in discretionary effort for their employer,'' says Julie Gebauer with Towers Perrin, a human resources company that conducted the study. ''In other words, they're willing to go above and beyond the call of duty.''Anita Bruzzese, December 17, 2005. "Businesses must engage workers to meet goals," The Salt Lake Tribune.

I have also seen a quote from David Ulrich where he uses the same language about "discretionary" work to define engagement. Can't find a reference though.

''Clearly, employees want and need more from senior management,'' says Gebauer, managing director and leader of Tower Perrin's Workforce Effectiveness practice. ''Managers have got to be more visible, more accessible and more open to employees. Leaders have got to understand what makes employees click.''ibid

I'm not going to comment on some of the distinct country statistics as I don't know anything about cultural effects on surveys like this. For example, some Asian populations measured very low on the engagement scale. Are they actually engaged and don't answer the questions the same way, or do they all hate their jobs, but stay because you used to get lifetime job security in places like Japan? I have no idea.

Clearly how one engages an employee will differ with each culture and country. The important point is that engagement is indeed critical to the bottom line and organizational success. What is important to me is that I talk a lot about technology and how these implementations increase your ability to improve the relationship with your customers (employees). However, if your managers are utilizing the automation and spending less face time with employees, this is a serious mistake.

Employees do want to contribute more, but believe they are hampered by senior managers. Only 41 percent believe bosses support new ideas and new ways of doing things, while only 36 percent believe top brass effectively communicates the reasons for important business decisions. Only one-third of workers believe senior managers communicate openly and honestly. ibid

So employee portals and self service are great because nether we nor our employees want to spend time on a manual address change process. However, we need not to think about minimizing the interaction - but to increase the quality of that interaction.

Part to of this series tomorrow.

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