Last month the Wall Street Journal announced the Drucker Institute’s annual list of the 250 best-managed companies in America and, not surprisingly, technology companies fared well. (Microsoft, Apple, I.B.M. top 3 – see article for the complete list…)
What might surprise you, however, is the list of criteria that is used to compile the list, which consists of the following five components:
- Customer satisfaction
- Employee engagement and development
- Social responsibility
- Financial strength
If you’re one of the many who are surprised to see “employee engagement and development” as one of the keys to being named a “best-managed” company, you might consider data shared by Gallup earlier this year (pre-pandemic) when they announced that, for the first time in twenty years, the percentage of engaged workers in the U.S. had risen. Their report said a major reason for the increase (a rise of 16% from thirty to thirty-five percent) was improvement in how organizations were developing their people.
“There are several possible explanations for the changes in engagement over the past decade,” the article said. “Gallup has reviewed many of these previously, from changes in the economy to slight improvements in some employee benefits. But these factors are not the primary drivers of improved engagement. Gallup research indicates that changes in employee engagement are best attributed to changes in how organizations develop employees.”
So, what we can learn from the list is the fact that employee engagement pays!
For many years organizations such as the Enterprise Engagement Alliance (EEA) have been sharing research and data on the benefits of engaged workers and on the return on investment organizations can realize by focusing on developing and engaging their people.
Here are a few best practices for implementing an employee engagement plan based on data from the EEA, Gallup, and others:
- Create a formal Engagement business plan outlining the desired outcomes, behaviors that lead to outcomes, key program components, roles and responsibilities, timeline, and return on investment.
- Effectively assess the people and the playing field to identify opportunities and obstacles to success.
- Develop realistic, achievable, and measurable goals. Team management and goal setting will need to adapt for a hybrid of offline and online work. Companies will need to create new home/office work styles so that economic activity can continue but individuals can remain healthy and care for their families. Managers will have to adjust to the reality of keeping people motivated and engaged across multiple diverse environments. Foster an atmosphere of collaboration, innovation, and fun. Reinforce the fact that leaders care about each employee’s health, safety, and financial well-being.
- Implement an appropriate integrated communication plan so people can maintain an awareness of achievement as well as the organization’s commitment to the plan. Incorporate a formalized plan for effectively providing more frequent feedback – employees thirst for it!
- Make sure people have the knowledge or skills needed to succeed in the “new normal.” This might be an ideal time to roll-out a professional development plan if your organization doesn’t already have one. Traditional plans might need updating to address shifts in skill development needs. As noted above, “the way in which organizations develop people” is an important factor in achieving higher engagement levels.
- Reward and recognize both progress and achievement so that people feel supported in their efforts.
- Measure outcomes and returns.
- Reinvest and continue…
"What you do has far greater impact than what you say."
"Outstanding leaders go out of the way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish."
"A person always doing his or her best becomes a natural leader, just by example."
"A leader is a dealer in hope."
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