Connecting Employee Engagement to Organizational Health and Sustainability

Connecting Employee Engagement to Organizational Health and Sustainability

Guest Student Post By: R. Whitehouse

 

EMPLOYEE-ENGAGEMENT

What do successful companies like Google, Facebook, or Apple all have in common? Each one of them has consistently received high employee reviews and ratings, making them desirable and sought-after places to work at. But what exactly makes them so desirable, and sought after by prospective employees? High compensation and benefits packages alone are not the reason; instead, what employees are looking for are organizations that actively engage with their employees.

A leader in the organizational science field, Dr. Michael Bazigos, stated (2015) “organizational health is one of the most powerful levers leaders have to drive performance in the short term and set up the organization for long term success” (para. 4). Recognized leaders in the industry believe that organizational health combines management, operations, and employees together (Lencioni, 2012). It is about making a business function cost-effectively, having the ability to change appropriately when necessary, and by continuously evolving. Organizational health maximizes employee potential while focusing on the organization’s mission and goals. To effectively maximize an employee’s potential, they need to be engaged.

Employees are said to be the backbone of a business, they can help an organization persevere through challenges or crisis, or they can contribute to its failure. In a recent Gallup Poll (June 2016) they reported that research shows a relationship between high levels of engagement and confidence in a company’s future, and further – that the best leaders create a sense of hope and optimism among employees” (para. 7). Using effective communication and learning and development programs, some organizations are not only engaging their employees, but they are investing in their future growth, success, and health. Those are the organizations that are receiving high employee reviews and ratings. Those are organizations that are desirable to prospective employees. The one’s employees want to work for and are invested in.

What does that mean for the health of an organization? It means lower absenteeism, higher retention, happier employees and greater employee satisfaction, which can translate to increased profitability through better customer service, greater productivity, better quality work, and ultimately higher profitability. That is why I believe it is so important to actively engage employees, as it benefits both the health of an organization and the employees themselves.

Discussion Questions:

  • So why are organizations not devoting resources to developing their greatest assets, their employees, when there is a clear connection between employee engagement and the health/success of an organization?  
  • How can those of us in the organizational development (OD) and training and development (TD) field communicate the importance of connecting employee engagement to organizational sustainability?

 

References:

Bazigos, M. N. (2015). Organizational Health and Wellness Are Business Relevant. People & Strategy, 38(1), 6.

Groscurth, C., & Shields, S. (2016). Managing in Tough Financial Times: Does Engagement

Help? Gallup, Inc. Retrieved from www.gallup.com/businessjournal/192356/managing-tough-financial-times-engagement-help.aspx2g_south=EMPLOYEE_ENGAGEMENT

Lencioni, P. (2012). The Advantage. Jossey-Bass Publishers

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17 comments

  • Pingback: Connecting Employee Engagement to Organizational Health and Sustainability • TheCircularEconomy.com

  • To answer your first question, many companies want the instant gratification or profit. They don’t want to invest into offering resources that will cost them money. Chain pharmacies don’t even offer their pharmacists a break in a 9-5 shift. That is 8 hours of continuous work with no breaks whatsoever. Offering their company’s most important asset a break would definitely make them more productive and as a result more profitable.

  • htran1mailrooseveltedu

    I think this is a really interesting article. I believe that employment engagement will increase productivity and profitability.

  • This is a great article, I also believe organizational health maximizes employee potential while focusing on the organization’s mission and goals.

  • For most companies, the expense is not worth the investment. I’ve heard from some leaders that employees will take advantage of them and leave. I have also noticed the environment for some companies is very toxic, and suggest this causes high turn around rates. In my current environment, I see both happening. Some leave because of the toxic focus on profits whereas others stay for the opportunity to change.

    I see my self as a change agent and belief that the Training and Development program here at Roosevelt, is preparing me to help facilitate change. It is important to start where there is mutual understanding and conversation between those who lead and those who work under leadership. From there, we who work in the OD and TD field can make connections, evaluate, plan, propose, and ultimately implement a strategy for engagement.

    Thank you for such a great post. This discussion should happen more often.

    Best,
    Emerson

  • Carole S Deeter

    I think that companies are not devoting resources to developing their assets as much as they should for a couple of reasons. First, I believe there is a lack of analysis completed to ensure that the development that is done is the appropriate development, and therefore, previous attempts have proven less impactful than desired. Second, I think that, despite the data that proves the connection, organizations are worried about the money lost if they invest in development and then the employees leave as soon as they’ve received the development they want. It fits with a quote I’ve seen going around lately: “What happens if we invest in our employees and they leave us?” “Yeah, but what if we don’t?”

    As for communicating the importance of employee engagement to sustainability, persistence is key. In my firm, one of my team’s most valuable tools has been showing management news of the competition. In large law firms, as I imagine is the same in other organizations that compete for talent, there’s significant consideration and effort put into “keeping up with the Jones.” So by reinforcing what other firms are doing and how they are finding success compared to what we are doing, it reinforces that we will lose talent to competitors if we don’t stay ahead of the curve, or at least in step with it.

  • Madison Quinton

    I currently work at a company that prides themselves in giving back and investing into their employees. I recently inquired about a job opening and my manager was nothing but supportive with this. She mentioned that the company’s goal is to have people who want to move up in the company but ultimately stick around for the long run. To me, if companies are not going to invest the time and resources into their employees, what is the point of continuing to run the company. They are the backbone of the organization and they are what keeps the customers coming back. Without happy employees, you are going to have an unhealthy work environment and organization.

  • So why are organizations not devoting resources to developing their greatest assets, their employees, when there is a clear connection between employee engagement and the health/success of an organization?

    I find that many organizations do not see the monetary value of employee engagement programs. Especially when you figure in the many “fad” engagement programs that seem to consistently pop up, and then fade away as the results do not prove successful turning into a loss for the organization. Often executives do not truly understand what employee engagement truly is, or do not have the expertise to know how to implement long-term and successful programs. Those who lack knowledge and understanding are often duped into buying into a “fad” program. It is important that executives be willing to do the research necessary to understand the core of employee engagement and how to create a long-term plan. Having even a base understanding can help the executives bring on a reliable OD professional to help reach their engagement and productivity goals.

    How can those of us in the organizational development (OD) and training and development (TD) field communicate the importance of connecting employee engagement to organizational sustainability?

    I think OD and TD professionals can communicate this by tracking the ROI for each learning program implemented. No matter how small the program might be, as the department begins to show positive numbers in employee engagement and productivity, executives will begin connecting the dots on their own. I work for a company that did not have a Training and Development program until my manager and I were hired. She and I had to garner the trust of our executives before we could begin implementing bigger engagement and development programs. To do this, we focused on smaller, less costly performance issues that we could fix. As we began showing success in improving productivity and streamlining business processes, we began to receive approval for bigger projects. Executives often rely on how the numbers affect the bottom line — being willing to take small wins to garner the trust of your stakeholders is important.

  • A company who does not to commit to an analysis of their organizational health is doomed to fail. Especially now that brick and mortar companies are closing their doors and customers are finding alternative means to purchase goods and services. Employees ARE on the front-line of these companies and strong representatives of their brand, good or bad. I think companies should look at the Starbucks model. Starbucks is committed to training and development of its employees, align their strategies to their mission statement and provide great benefits for their employees to help with member retention.
    https://valuesdrivenresults.com/starbucks-training-program-so-good/

  • So why are organizations not devoting resources to developing their greatest assets, their employees, when there is a clear connection between employee engagement and the health/success of an organization?

    I think sometimes companies don’t even know where to start. They are afraid of getting bad feedback, they have gotten it in the past and didn’t know how to handle it, or they don’t have anyone that can remain impartial (HR or an outside consultant) to get the feedback for them. Companies who are also so big that have high turnover honestly might not care because they can just hire new people (have seen this myself!).

    My other thought is that they are not educated. They don’t know that it makes such a big impact an don’t read or educate themselves enough to understand.

    How can those of us in the organizational development (OD) and training and development (TD) field communicate the importance of connecting employee engagement to organizational sustainability?

    I think it all comes down to the pitches. What I mean is that when I am talking to Sr Management about trainings that need to be developed and implemented, I throw in ways we can do an evaluation to determine what training is needed and why. I think that bringing more awareness to the Sr Management team could bring this fact out in public to be talked about more so that solutions can be designed.

  • When companies do not invest in the development of their employees they are failing to prepare for the future. These companies are satisfied with the present, and are ignoring the future. This shortsightedness is seen by the employee and impacts morale greatly. The employee will ultimately seek opportunities where better and brighter visioning along with training and development strategies are found. Being a part of an innovative organization that seeks to exceed its present state is attractive. Companies who want to be the best must remain competitive when seeking the top employees.

  • I believe that this connection is highly accurate and meaningful to any organization. To answer some of the questions below, I also believe that some organizations don’t invest more in employee engagement because the organization may not believe that employees are at the forefront of what they do! It all boils down to having a credo, a motto, or a mantra that builds a culture of a company in order for a company to have that mindset or skill sets. Without form there is no functionality, I just learned that in my TRDV 499 class 🙂 so I am glad that I could use that here. But truly, using Koch’s theory of 80/20 or the Pareto principle is real, not just in the classroom but also in the work environment.
    As a facilitator in the T&D organization, I increase this method of engaging learners in each session that I have and every touchpoint by letting them know that YOU MATTER, your voice matters, the way you think and feel about the material matters because simply if they don’t believe in it, then it will never translate over to the customer.

    This is why Google, FB, and Apple have the upper hand because they have recognized that what employees want is to feel worthy and valuable. They have to be the frontline of the industry, the foot soldiers to have challenging conversations with customers, and these businesses recognize that their products are in the hands of the employees. Other companies should get on board and mirror these concepts and get the employees involved in decisions in roundtables, surveys, shadow programs to get the voice of the employees, which gives instant gratification and resonates back into the business!

  • A lot of companies do not put emphasis on organizational health for a few reasons, but the main reason, in my opinion, is that they are out of touch with the needs of the employees at their company and most likely there is no emphasis put on company culture. Instead, they are too focused on the bottom line ($). These types of companies are tone deaf and think a one-size-fits-all benefit like “bagel Fridays” and open workspaces are what employees want. They do not take the time to listen to their employees and figure out what is really valuable to them from a company. I couldn’t have said it better myself: “reinvest in staff and make sure managers have a pulse on where their employees are at and what they want.”
    https://www.chicagotribune.com/bluesky/hub/ct-bsi-hub-lasalle-network-20181228-story.html

    Organizational health has to start with senior leadership and be incorporated as part of the company’s mission. There needs to be an emphasis on investing in a company’s staff and community instead of just focusing on themselves. OD and TD professionals can help share these insights and use supporting data such as the LaSalle Network survey as a starting place to hopefully conduct a survey of their own. Survey results here: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/07/millennials-are-demanding-these-workplace-perks.html

  • I don’t think organizations really care about their employees now a days. To a lot of organizations, employees are nothing, but numbers. For instance, many organizations feel that if employees resign or are unhappy with certain things, then they feel that they can just replace them with someone who will adapt to the changes. With that being said, organizations don’t devote resources to the development of their employees because they don’t feel they have to or they simply just don’t care.

  • Organizational health is directly related to the health of the individuals that comprise it. Companies that don’t invest in their employees have not had the vision to build a developmental ethos. I think it starts with the mission, the mission of the company has to be around building people up in some way. Without it, the development of others becomes a nice to have. There is the fear of developing your employees so much that they leave. This brings to mind the famous Richard Branson quote, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” I also heard this famous quote in a hypothetical dialog,

    CFO: What happens if we train them and they leave?
    CEO: What happens if we don’t and they stay?

    I am unsure where this originates but it is a good thought experiment. Training and development is not an option if you want to grow.

  • It seems like companies today are seeking employees with skills necessary for them to jump right into the role with minimal training because they don’t want to spend the money or take the time to train them (which costs money as well). It is extremely unfortunate because this decreases employee morale.

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