Imagine you are a vice president at a leading sales company. Your CEO just charged you with spearheading a project that will fundamentally change the way your business operates. You know that many projects involving large-scale change fail on the first attempt and are nervous about the prospects of success.
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You fully understand that one of the reasons business transformations fail is because of a lack of employee engagement during the planning, implementation and follow-through phases of the project. However, you know you have a phenomenal team you can rely on to execute a successful project.
With that said, you’ve concluded that your most pressing need is to determine how to engage your team to facilitate a smooth project. This leads you to wonder . . .
- “What is the best way to engage these employees before, during and after the project?”
- “What project planning activities should they be involved in?”
- “How can I leverage their skills to make this project a success?”
What is Employee Engagement?
To define employee engagement in the context of a business transformation, it is important to first define what it is not:
- Employee engagement is not employee happiness. Happy employees are not necessarily engaged employees.
- Employee engagement is not employee satisfaction. A satisfied employee might just be one who is comfortable doing the bare minimum.
Fact: Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to the company and its strategic goals.
In other words, to be truly engaged in a project, employees must exhibit an emotional connection to the project goals. This means that they care about the project and it is not just done for a paycheck, but for their pride and the company’s benefit.
3 Types of Employees
- Engaged – These are employees who work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company and its goals. These employees drive the company forward with innovative thinking and creative problem-solving.
- Not Engaged – These employees are essentially “checked out.” They are just going through the motions and putting in the time, but not with the passionate energy required for the project to succeed.
- Actively Disengaged – These employees are not just unhappy or dissatisfied at work, but they are actively displaying their unhappiness during the workday. They intentionally and unintentionally undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.
Every company has a percentage of each of these types of employees. However, the most successful companies have a disproportionate number of engaged employees.
Why is Employee Engagement so Important?
To paint this picture, let’s draw from Psychology 101. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, people value five fundamental pillars of themselves. From the bottom pillar to the top pillar, people require the following:
- Physiological Needs (i.e., air, water, food, shelter)
- Safety (i.e., personal security, employment, health)
- Love and Belonging (i.e., friendship, intimacy, sense of connection)
- Esteem (i.e., respect, status, recognition)
- Self-actualization (the desire to become the most that one can be)
Fact: Employees are people with needs and the ultimate desire to become the most that they can be.
Therefore, it is our job to engage their need for safety, belonging and esteem, so they can achieve a level of self-actualization that delivers incredible project results.
The Impact of High Employee Engagement
Poor employee engagement practices cripple companies. When employees do not feel engaged at work, they are less inclined to deliver their best work.
In 2016, Gallup conducted an employee engagement survey of over 339 research studies focused on the relationship between employee engagement and performance outcomes. This analysis found that only 13% of global employees feel like they are engaged at work. In addition, it found a striking positive correlation between effective engagement and the attainment of performance objectives.
Work units in the top quartile were compared against work units in the bottom quartile, and it was found that those scoring the top half of the employee engagement ratings nearly doubled their odds of company success.
In addition, the analysis concluded that companies with effective employee engagement were . . .
- 70% less prone to safety incidents
- 41% less prone to absenteeism
- 40% less prone to produce products with quality defects
- 28% less likely to experience shrinkage
- 24% less likely to experience high turnover
- 21% more profitable
- 20% more likely to achieve sales goals
- 17% more productive
- 10% more successful at meeting customer metrics
Fact: Employee engagement is essential to both the overall success of a company and the success of its business transformation initiatives.
How do You Engage Employees?
Here are five ways to improve employee engagement during your business transformation:
1. Provide the Right Tools to Employees
There is nothing more frustrating to an employee than not having the tools they need to succeed.
Fact: Ensuring your company provides the right tools to employees is one of the top drivers of engagement.
This can be as simple as sourcing the proper hammers and wrenches for automotive work or as complex as ensuring security protocols are not inhibiting the workflow of a programming team.
2. Provide Training to Employees
Just as you must provide the proper tools for your employees to succeed, you must also provide the proper end-user training on those tools.
In an era where continuous improvement is required to stay afloat in the business world, companies must remain at the forefront of advancements in their field. This can be accomplished by developing a training program that focuses on developing employee skills and knowledge.
A simple, yet effective training method is cross-training employees of different business processes throughout the company. This creates a more empowered workforce and ensures employees understand the goals of business transformation.
3. Give Individual Attention to Employees
Did one of your employees recently have a baby? Are they going through a tough time at home? Are they are asking you for guidance on a project?
As a leader of people, you must focus your attention on the individual nature of your employees. Everyone has unique experiences, both personal and professional, and you must recognize this by conversing with individual employees in a manner that makes them feel valued.
4. Recognize Employees Loudly and Proudly
It’s no secret that employee recognition programs inspire employee engagement. In fact, the same Gallup poll discovered that when a manager focuses on someone’s strengths, the likelihood of that employee becoming disengaged drops to 1%.
Conversely, when a manager focuses on an employee’s weaknesses, the likelihood of disengagement rises to 22%. In addition, when an employee is ignored by his manager, disengagement potential is upwards of 40%.
Fact: Recognition programs do not have to be complex or even painstakingly developed. Recognition can be delivered through conversation or even just simple certificates of appreciation.
The key is to focus on employee strengths and highlight their accomplishments that drove the business forward.
5. Develop an Organizational Change Management Plan
Without an organizational change management plan, you have no roadmap for engaging employees at key points throughout the project. A change management plan helps you understand employee needs and develop messaging that informs employees of the impact of change. This strategic communication reduces change resistance. Communication is also essential when it comes to employee training.
Employee Engagement is Key to Business Transformation Success
Throughout your business transformation, you must focus on engaging employees before, during and after the project. This is essential because you need to understand their pain points and how the project will truly impact their work. You will only get honest answers from your employees if they feel highly engaged and genuinely care about your company’s performance.
Once you’ve established a culture of engagement, it’s important to include employees in your initial planning sessions. This allows them to provide honest feedback and ensures they have clearly defined roles throughout the project.
Panorama’s business transformation consultants can help your company build a change management plan that enables an effective employee engagement strategy. Give us a call! We’re happy to help.