Guest Column - July/August 2012

Employee Enrichment Begins With Creating Human Moments

By Jonathan McClellan

Arguably the most dominant theme in business leadership and management over the past decade has been centered on the topic of employee engagement—and rightly so, I might add. Today's business leaders have come to realize the path to a remarkable customer experience begins with a highly motivated, passionate and committed team of employees.

As companies focus on strengthening their performance culture—aligning individual performance with company goals and values—managers seeking to increase engagement and personally connect with employees must first look to create human moments in the corporate day.

Why All the Fuss About Engagement

Leaders are looking to employee engagement as a solution for productivity, agility and innovation to deliver a remarkable experience to their customers and fuel organizational growth. High expectations, indeed! Yet, extensive research in the field of employee engagement has shown companies with highly engaged employees outperform companies with less engaged workforces in many critical areas.

As Gallup Organization's extensive studies of engagement at work (published in the August 2009 White Paper: "Q12 Meta-Analysis: The Relationship Between Engagement at Work and Organization Outcomes") have validated, companies with highly engaged workforces have higher levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty, increased employee retention, less absenteeism, fewer accidents, higher productivity, and more effective communication and collaboration, which ultimately leads to creative and innovative breakthroughs.

It is no wonder companies that have put their employees at the center of their business strategy are also generating higher levels of profitability compared to counterparts with less engaged workforces. By becoming more employee-centric, these companies are able to deliver a higher level of quality and service to their customers and pave the way to profitable growth.

Managers Are Essential to Engagement

Managers play an essential role in building the foundation that inspires motivation and invites personal engagement. They are in the best position to help make personal connections between an individual's unique contributions and the advancement of the company's mission and values. When done effectively, managers can strengthen an individual's commitment to the company in a way that far exceeds simply managing to the bottom line.

Arming front-line managers with the tools they need to effectively recognize and reinforce the behaviors that align with a company's overall mission and values is absolutely critical to the success of long-term employee engagement. Employee-centric companies must strive to build formal solutions and platforms that lay the foundation for a culture of recognition at every level of the organization.

A formal employee recognition program:

  • Establishes direct connections between employee performance and the company's business goals and values.
  • Creates an environment that openly and publicly celebrates achievements.
  • Provides managers and peers with the means to identify, recognize and reward the activities and behaviors of individuals that advance the goals and values of the whole.
  • Clearly measures and communicates the positive impact those behaviors (big and small) are having on the organization, its partners and its customers.

In the right environment, employee engagement becomes contagious. Highly motivated people make other people feel engaged in their work and inspire them to focus on possibilities instead of problems. This positive energy and creativity quickly spreads to other team members and work groups.