Posted by Bob Fangmeyer
No, that is not the latest Powerball Lottery jackpot, the daily addition to the budget deficit, or the number of times Charlie Sheen and Lindsey Lohan have been arrested.
That is the number of employees who would beg to differ with the author of a recent article found in the on-line version of Inc. Magazine.
Steve Tobak attempts to make the case that employee engagement is not important. In fact, he claims it is nothing more than a fad and money making racket. Why? Because the data don’t clearly indicate that employee engagement surveys and strategies directly impact the bottom line.
Now, before you jump to conclusions like I did, it is important to listen carefully because I believe Steve is 100% correct… about the problem: most employee engagement efforts fail to improve satisfaction, morale, commitment, or the bottom line. My disagreement is with his answer to the problem.
Steve characterizes the approach many organizations take to employee engagement as follows: “You just hire Gallup, do a survey, announce some strategies, and poof, instant engagement.”
This is analogous to someone trying to lose weight by eating a random selection of subs at Subway. Subway worked for Jared, it should work for me!
Engagement requires a lot more than a satisfaction survey and handing out Employee-of-the-Month awards. Moving the needle on engagement is not quick or easy… thus the problem. Weak, half-hearted efforts like these will not improve engagement, much less the bottom line. As Steve notes “Half the time it backfires because they’re not measuring the right factors, they don’t make the right changes, they fix one thing and screw up another, or they don’t follow up at all. In reality, there’s a high risk of actually losing credibility with employees.”
Amazingly, Steve doesn’t advise organizations to figure out the right factors to measure, the right changes to make, and to do so from a systems perspective. Instead, Steve’s answer to the problem is to give up. Don’t waste your time.
Back to our analogy, this is like telling a person to not bother trying to lose weight because most people aren’t successful at it.
What might happen to our un-fit friend who just does nothing? High blood pressure; diabetes; heart disease; heart attacks; blood clots; strokes; joint problems; osteoarthritis; sleep apnea; respiratory problems; cancer–including breast, colon, gallbladder, colon, and prostate; and elevated blood cholesterol… quite likely a premature death. Losing weight might be hard, but it is definitely worth doing.
The very same thing is true for an organization that doesn’t address the need for employee engagement. It will present itself in a variety of organizational health issues that will quite likely lead to a premature death.
So rather than give up, I say get serious. Get advice. Do some research. Really understand your employees’ needs and expectations. Fix the things that matter.
Where can you turn for help? Well you can start by attending the Quest for Excellence conference and learning from organizations that have figured out how to move the needle and can articulate the benefits of doing so. If you would like a larger list of organizations to benchmark, try any of the other Baldrige Award recipients that depend on an engaged workforce to help them achieve their outstanding business and operational results!
What about your organization? Is good enough really good enough? Or are you willing to strive for excellence and outstanding results? Are you serious about your strategies or just paying lip-service?
I see the Baldrige process as a powerful set of mechanisms for disciplined people engaged in disciplined thought and taking disciplined action to create great organizations that produce exceptional results.
– Jim Collins, best-selling author of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t