Establishing an engaged organisation

During these uncertain economic times with competitors lurking around every corner, no business can afford to lose momentum in the market. Unfortunately, disengaged employees can negatively impact the growth and long-term success of an organisation. Ian McAlister, General Manager of CRS Technologies, explains how to drive internal engagement.

“Disengaged employees are emotionally and intellectually disconnected from the goals of the organisation and disinterested in making discretionary investments in achieving it. Because they are less focused on the success of the business, they produce and innovate less.”

Often, this results in absenteeism, staff churn, quality defects, stock shrinkages, and harmful attitudes around customer acquisition and retention. There is also the emotional impact on co-workers who want to be engaged to consider as well.

Driving engagement

Research shows that each actively disengaged employee (someone who undermines the business and negatively impacts other employees) costs an average organisation approximately 34 percent of their annual salary. For large businesses, this can quickly escalate to a significant impact on the financial bottom-line.

“To counter this, companies must measure disengagement correctly to understand the symptoms and read the signs. Once done, the business can diagnose some of the triggers causing the disengagement and develop plans to counteract them. Finally, when implemented, it is essential to track and measure progress.”

Decision-makers should avoid the temptation of simply establishing a wellness programme and hope that it will be enough to boost engagement.

“A wellbeing programme is an important component of an engagement programme as it demonstrates that the employee belongs, is sufficiently valued, that the environment is fair, and that the employer cares. But because there are several other important workplace factors that impact on motivation, wellbeing must be integrated into a bigger plan.”

Strategic approach

This holistic workplace strategy must revolve around three core principles – the head, heart, and hands.

The head is focused on intellectually aligning each employee. Questions that need to be addressed include whether every employee understands what the business is about, its long-term plans, and its values. Furthermore, can every employee link their role and value to the organisation to the goals and see the impact it will make?

Secondly, the heart revolves around the emotional commitment employees will make to the business. Tactics should consider whether all employees are equally respected, are all employees included in information sharing such as performance feedback, are employees recognised for their achievements, and do all employees have the skills needed to do their best work.

The final component is the hands. This deals with whether employees will engage usefully with the organisation if they are practically enabled. Plans to improve this can revolve around skills development, having access to the right leadership guidance and support, and access to the necessary tools, workspace, resources, and equipment to function at their best.

“Engaged businesses outperform disengaged ones by considerable margins. This extends to customer acquisition and retention, brand and experience differentiation, quality of production, talent acquisition and retention, and safety standards. Research shows that increasing engagement by as little as 10 percent can increase profits by an average of R35 000 per employee annually. Considering the economic environment, this could mean the difference between business success and failure.”