The emerging field of employee or workforce engagement has captured the attention of most “C Suites” over the past year or two; and as more and more organizations are taking a more formalized approach to engaging employees, the correlation between engagement and Continuous Improvement (CI) has also emerged.
Consider that engagement is simply a framework for achieving goals through people in a measurable way. These “goals” can involve anything, and might include reducing team turnover, enhancing safety, or improving specific work processes.
But what many of us might not realize is the fact that today’s “engagement” plans are designed to benefit all stakeholders, including employees and employers.
Organizations that have embraced this approach have found it is not only possible to achieve almost any goal that involves people, but also, to the surprise of many, to realize a return-on-investment in the process. In other words, engagement can be a profit center rather than a cost center and the ROI can take on various forms.
For example, according to an Employee Engagement Benchmark Study by Temkin Group, highly engaged employees try harder and tend to drive business results. They are twice as likely to work after their shift ends, twice as likely to do something good for the company that is unexpected of them, and three times as likely to make recommendations for company improvements.
But these same employees can also be participants in an ongoing effort to improve their workplace. They can have a say, and they can have a hand in impacting the quality of day-to-day work life by improving the way their work is done. In these cases, which we call “engagement around the work,” many feel more empowered and experience greater levels of job satisfaction as well.
So, as noted above, engagement yields benefits for all stakeholders, employees and employers. Or, as the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
It is important to recognize, however, that engaging people to achieve results requires top-management support and requires more than a casual or ad-hoc effort. Far too many organizations have learned this lesson the hard way, only to find half-hearted efforts don’t work. This reality is evidenced by the fact that only thirty percent of the U.S. workforce is engaged.
Here is a more comprehensive and structured approach to engaging a workforce based on extensive research completed by the Enterprise Engagement Alliance – you might also note how well it aligns with tried-and-true CI methodology:
- Develop realistic, achievable, and measurable goals and objectives.
- Effectively assess the people and the playing field to identify opportunities and obstacles to success.
- Create a formal Engagement business plan outlining the desired outcomes, behaviors that lead to outcomes, key program components, roles and responsibilities, timeline, and return on investment, etc.
- Implement the appropriate integrated communication plan, including an Engagement web portal for the program when appropriate.
- Make sure people have the knowledge or skills needed to succeed.
- Foster an atmosphere of collaboration, innovation, and fun.
- Reward and recognize both progress and achievement so that people feel supported in their efforts.
- Measure outcomes and returns.
- Reinvest and continue…