An assumption that many senior leaders hold is that employees’ happiness and performance are unrelated.
A CEO of a global firm was having a discussion with a colleague which revolved around increased turnover in their company – and not “beneficial” turnover. They were losing talented leaders and team members.
According to exit interviews, these players didn’t feel valued. They saw the company as exclusively focused on results, not on the organization’s original “serve others” purpose.
Their Chief Talent Officer suggested doing an engagement survey to learn what the rest of their global workforce thought about these issues. The CEO boldly replied, “I don’t care about happy employees! I just want these people to produce!”
Take a moment to consider this question: how happy are team members in your organization today? Are they enthused, optimistic, engaged, cooperative, and creative – or not so much? How might one seek to influence a senior leader who undervalues employee happiness to not only understand the benefits of employee engagement but to actively encourage it? It’s possible with a combination of these elements :
- Show them it works. Do your own employee engagement research, “under the radar.” Find a willing leader of a distinct, intact business unit who will let you “experiment” for a year. Start with an engagement survey to get a “happiness” benchmark. Note performance of individuals and teams to get performance benchmarks. Identify policies and practices that pit people against each other. Refine those policies and practices so they encourage cooperative interaction. Set clear values standards for treating everyone with trust, respect, and dignity. Create open communications across teams and across levels so everyone feels fully informed. Stick with it. Within six months you’ll see upticks in engagement, service, and results. Compare this “skunk works” unit’s performance with other units performance, and you’ll find impressive gains. Share these results with your senior leaders, over and over again.
- Show them the money. Happy, engaged employees produce better results and profits than disengaged employees. Research by Netsurvey found that companies with engaged employees outperform companies with satisfied employees by 8% annually.
- Show them the data. This particular CEO wasn’t influenced by the exit interview data from his own departing talent. So, you’ve got to gather reliable, undeniable data that leaves the leader with no choice but to try more employee-friendly practices and policies. Internal data – like this organization’s exit interviews – will have the most impact. A regular, organization-wide engagement survey is a needed foundational piece of internal data. Look at simple, fast pulse survey solutions for internal data. Present them with key insights from current engagement research from organizations like Aeon Hewitt, Gallup, and others.
Will these approaches help every senior leader to “get” and support employee engagement? No, but you’ll have living proof that happy employees are worth their weight in gold.