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A New Look at Engagement

Here is an excerpt from an article featured by Talent Management magazine in which Barb Krantz Taylor identifies and discusses nine intangible elements of work that employees rank much higher than salary or perks on engagement surveys. To read the complete article, check out all the resources, and sign up for a free subscription to the TM and/or Chief Learning Officer magazines published by MedfiaTec, please click here.

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Engaged employees perform at 100 percent of their ability, but the most highly engaged employees perform at 122 percent. This was an assertion made during a Towers Perrin — now Towers Watson — webinar called “Leadership Drives Engagement and Retention” a few years ago.

Let’s do the math. Every employee who’s elevated from engaged to highly engaged is expected to add 22 percent more productivity, potentially resulting in the equivalent of one more full-time employee for every five new highly engaged employees.

Employee engagement has always been of interest to talent leaders, and the need to drive engagement is only growing in importance. During the tumultuous economic downturn, people were happy just to have a job, but now companies are seeing signs of movement in the market as recruiters come knocking.

There’s a high cost to low engagement and burnout. A Families and Work Institute report titled “Overwork in America” noted in 2005 that people are overworked more than ever, and react badly to stress and longer hours. Organizations with low engagement will also experience higher turnover, lost productivity, transition chaos, loss of critical knowledge and skills, disrupted succession plans and less profitability and business value.

Traditionally, companies have used carrots or sticks to motivate or engage employees. They offer raises, bonuses and other perks as carrots. They also try sticks such as performance quotas tied to disciplinary action, demerits and loss of privileges. However, these things don’t drive engagement. Sticks tend to create resentment rather than top performance. Compensation and other carrots are good, but highly engaged employees expect more.

Here are nine key drivers of engagement as identified by The Bailey Group. Most organizations have at least some of these, but are missing a few. These intangible elements of work rank much higher than salary or perks on employee engagement surveys. Individually, these drivers can indicate strengths or concerns, but all nine must be considered to determine a complete picture of engagement. Notice how money isn’t even mentioned.

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To read the complete article, please click here.

Barb Krantz Taylor is a licensed psychologist, co-principal and executive coach with The Bailey Group.

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