Sunday, July 19, 2009

Innovation means Effective Employee Engagement

As the recession drags on, although there is now some optimism building in the Canadian markets, many in the USA are projecting a later recovery into Q4, 2010. Due to the current economic outlook, organizations start to drive more cost sensitive approaches to investments, change, innovation and also increase their internal communication practices to keep valued employees informed of their near term business realities.

With increased tensions in the external markets, internal tensions naturally also rise. In more difficult times, leaders start to intensify their focus on performance and results.

Recruiters say the single most critical means of managing through a downturn is the engagement of employees - a term often used and equally elusive. In tough times, when morale is low and people are looking potentially over their shoulders, employee engagement often suffers and gets reflected on the bottom line.

Employee engagement, confidence and positive energy is one of the single most reliable indicators of business performance. The basic concept is simple, but the implications are anything but.

A recent survey by Hiring Smart shows that the top 16% of performers in a company generate about 60% of the organization's revenues, while the bottom 16% cost the company about 20% in revenues.

An estimated 23% payroll expenses is unproductive because of low engagement, with only 20% of employees considering themselves "fully engaged" at work.

Getting employees and talent engaged effectively requires a considerable investment in human capital investment in key strategies that enable employee engagement ranging from effective intranet communication, ease of knowledge sharing, sourcing talent on demand easily leverage searcheable profiles linked to process ownership areas, to leveraging effective leadership development and training support opportunities.

There are many factors that have to be planned out effectively that understand the support systems of talent at different stages of career growth with any given manager, team, job and organization.

Organizations that understand that top management and top performers are the talent that are going to carry you through the tough times.

Talent spotting is as much as an art as a science and smart business leaders value their HR leaders and place demands on them to ensure effective employee engagement practices and processes are in place. When it comes to developing high potential talent, leaders need to be grounded and connected to lowers levels in their organizations.

A good read for managers is Leaders at All Levels by Ram Charan to help managers who lack the skills to spot top talent.

In summary, tough times call for employees who are committed to generating results - however, the solution is not adding more pressure on the precious talented workforce but removing barriers, and setting up support systems that allow them to remain energized, focused and committed during difficult times.


Richard said...

I fully agree. In difficult economic times, when companies are losing staff, sales are slow and the outlook is bleak, engagement levels can quickly drop.

Unless that is, a company has strong leadership, and the employees fully believe in benefit the company's products and services offer its customers.

When that belief is there by the employees, it is much easier to keep employee engagement levels high, and therefore morale high. When morale stays high, the good times will come back much sooner. When morale drops, the company soon spirals into a downward vicious circle.

Dr. Cindy Gordon said...

Hi Richard. Appreciate your comments. It is always so difficult to understand that we continue to be short sighted in our leadership styles in North America as enterprise leaders -- when times are very difficult - it is critical to increase employee communication, reward and recognition and extra the extra mile by communicating openly and transparently. People only expect the truth - so they can manage and live their lives effectively. More often than not we do not see this heightened conversation about people in the boardrooms - focus is on sales and results -- but the human ness of the conversation drives the soul and spirit of the organization forward with belief commitment - this is simply hard work to do and takes more creativity, energy and positive thinking.Unless the CEO and his /her leadership team believe they can genuinely make the turnaround then others will follow if the authenticity and ask for help is there. Creating a strong sense of belonging is often a missing dynamic. Keep the conversation going. Thanks

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