Employee Engagement

The Leader's Role

We’ve all heard about organizations with great strategies that somehow fail to execute in the marketplace. We also know of organizations that have long-term, highly satisfied customers who, for some mysterious reason, stop buying.

On the surface, it is easy to say that there are many uncontrollable factors contributing to these problems, such as politics or a global economic crisis. However, some organizations continue to enjoy greater levels of success in spite of these external forces. These organizations succeed because of something called Engagement—a factor that may be playing a more significant role in business than previously believed.

Engagement represents the conditions under which people (employees and customers alike) make an emotionally-based choice to be loyal to a company. For customers, this choice is typically demonstrated as reliable, repeat business and voluntary, positive brand support. Employees demonstrate engagement through a positive expenditure of their discretionary energy and a clear commitment to the organization’s vision, strategies, and goals.

The results of these choices are evident, with studies supporting the notion that “high engagement” organizations enjoy higher productivity and profits than “low engagement” organizations. Engaged customers provide greater revenue, sustain market share, and are less susceptible to being drawn away by competitors. Engaged employees provide greater productivity with higher levels of performance and are less likely to be drawn away by bigger salaries or better working conditions.

While the benefits of engagement are well defined, these same studies also suggest an increased movement away from engagement for employees. These studies clearly indicate that only a very small percentage of employees are fully engaged in most organizations, and an increasing number of employees are disengaging—sometimes by seeking employment elsewhere or, potentially worse, remaining in a position without putting forth the necessary energy or commitment.

This is not news to many. Comments from leaders indicate that while they understand the importance of engagement, they find themselves fraught with more questions than ideas about actually creating employee engagement.

There is nothing more important than getting the right people, in the right jobs, with the right development and with the high levels of engagement. Everything else—superior customer service, profitable growth, return on share holder value and brand—happens from there.

— Roy Vallee, CEO, Avnet, Inc.