Engaged Employees: Your Company's No. 1 Competitive Advantage

February 18, 2015

In Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends research, 78% of business leaders rate retention and engagement urgent or important.  According to Gallup, companies with high engagement scores perform much better than those with low scores in key operational areas like productivity, absenteeism, turnover, safety and quality incidents, shrinkage, customer metrics, and profitability.  No wonder why Josh Bersin describes “engaging people well” as one of the biggest competitive differentiators in business.

employee engagementStill not convinced?  According to the Boston Consulting Group, "people" companies – those the firm categorizes as having good people practices – have a competitive advantage that can be backed up by solid results.  Companies that made the "100 Best Places to Work" list for three or more years outperformed the S&P 500 in eight out of 10 years.  Over a decade, they cumulatively beat the S&P 500 by 99 percentage points.

Employers are increasingly embracing employee engagement as a critical strategy to their success.  They are recognizing that people-centric competitors manage their talent better and are seeing a direct impact on their bottom line.  Despite this desire to increase engagement, leadership is lost on the best way to go about achieving this strategic objective so we wanted to weigh in with a little advice – engagement has breadth and goes beyond the work environment.

First, employee engagement breadth recognizes that employees have core needs and a comprehensive strategy should address all of these needs.  Let's take a moment to go back to Psych 101 and revisit Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a generally accepted theory about human nature that ranks aspects driving motivation. The list ranks in order of importance: (i) physiological needs (food and shelter); (ii) safety (security, employment, health); (iii) love and belonging; (iv) self-esteem, confidence and achievement; and (v) self-actualization (creativity, problem-solving).  We don’t have time to address a strategy for all of these needs so we are going to focus on health, which happens to be number 2 on the list.

Although there are numerous ways to engage employees, employee wellness is one of the most important.  For starters, effective wellness programs make workforces healthier, and healthier employees are happier employees (both personally and professionally).  A study of the “Economic Determinants of Happiness” revealed that health is a far more powerful determinant of an individual’s happiness than his or her income.  In fact, “healthy” people are 20% happier than average, while “unhealthy” people are more than 8% less happy.

Employers must incorporate employee wellness into their comprehensive engagement strategy in order to reap the full benefits of an effective, highly engaged organization.  Specifically, employers need to meet their employees where they are and treat them like consumers as it pertains to their health and wellness.  As part of a comprehensive engagement strategy that addresses the needs of fulfillment and other areas to thrive, wellness can make organizations powerful and highly competitive.

Topics: Engagement

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