The correlation between how employees feel and how a company performs is now beyond question.
In 2011, MindGym released their White Paper: The Engaged Employee. The paper is based on a literature review of over 30 independent academic studies as well as consultation with a number of leading businesses, including ASOS, Nomura, Pfizer, Richmond Housing Partnership, Logica, Grant Thornton, Diageo, National School of Government, Essex County Council, Reckitt Benckiser and Sky.
The paper looks at the business case for engagement, identifies the 5 frequent flaws that came out of the research, looks at the role and experience of the individual, the manager, the senior leader and colleagues in engagement and finally gives MindGym’s perspective on approaching engagement.
The correlation between how employees feel and how a company performs is now beyond question. Even more significantly, employee engagement is a strong predictor of future financial performance (5).
And yet, for all the well intentioned corporate initiatives, employee engagement is getting worse: down by 9% overall and 25% among top performers. Based on extensive research (6), this white paper outlines what is going wrong and what we should do about it. We have identified the five great distractions: what business leaders do that they think will increase engagement but actually makes it worse. From cascading employee survey results to grand gestures about employee benefits and conferences brimming with razzamatazz but with little follow-up, there is no shortage of investment. The shortfall is in the return.
To the question, ‘what delivers results?’ the answer is clear, if unexpected. The single factor that has most impact on sustainable employee engagement is not, contrary to popular opinion, the line manager. Nor is it belief in the leadership, though both of these are significant. Overwhelmingly, the single greatest influence on employee engagement is the lens employees use to look at the world overall, and their world of work in particular.
The good news is that these lenses can change. Pessimists can become more optimistic, people who feel powerless can increasingly gain control, and people who are aimless can become purposeful. The answer lies in focusing on four core audiences so that:
- Individual employees choose to think differently about work.
- Immediate managers build trust and have energising performance conversations.
- Senior leaders build belief by painting a picture of the future and giving credible reasons to believe it is achievable.
- Colleagues make it an enjoyable place to work.
Not only will people come to work with a skip in their step but they will stay for longer, work harder, be more vociferous ambassadors and complain barely at all. This is the way to have engaged employees whatever the corporate weather.
The paper highlights a number of key insights with regards to employee engagement that became apparent / where confirmed as part of the research:
– We choose how we think. People who choose to think in certain ways are far more likely to be engaged.
– Our mental default settings are like our computer’s default settings. They are easy to change when we know how.
– The personalities of the most engaged managers vary enormously.
– Dynamic performance conversations are critical for engagement.
– Building trust as a manager involves not only keeping promises, but also ensuring appropriate boundaries and being sensitive to social and cultural ones.
– Leaders build a belief by showing will-power and way-power.
– Leaders engage employees with compelling stories about where the company is going and how they are going to get there.
– Leaders are more trusted when they’re being themselves than when they slip into a presenter persona.
– Getting on with colleagues leads to higher engagement.
– We all have a role to play as we’re all someone else’s colleague.
The full PDF version of the White Paper is available here
5 Harter J., Schmidt F., Killham E., Agrawal S. (2009) The relationship between engagement at work and organisational outcomes, Gallup Press.
6 Mind Gym has conducted a literature review of over 30 independent academic studies, consulted leading businesses including ASOS, Nomura, Pfizer, Richmond Housing Partnership, Logica, Grant Thornton, Diageo, National School of Government, Essex County Council, Reckitt Benckiser, Sky and drawn lessons from 10 years of work with 40% of FTSE 100.