Engaged employees are at least three and a half times more likely than disengaged employees to be committed to improving productivity, and almost five times more likely than disengaged employees to say their organisation is committed to bringing innovative products and services to the marketplace.
A recent research report, which explores the people dimensions and cultural enablers of productivity improvements and innovation, also found that highly engaged employees are nearly six times more likely than disengaged employees to use challenging goals to improve performance, and more than seven times more likely to agree that their senior leadership team encourages innovation and creative ideas.
“A bad culture will kill a good strategy every time,” said Nicholas Barnett, CEO of Insync Surveys, which conducted the research report.
“Productivity and innovation are much more likely to thrive if your organisation has been intentional about the way it has formed and shaped its culture to align well with your vision, purpose and strategy.”
The report, which took in more than 100,000 employees from around 150 organisations, also suggested that organisations already have what they need improving productivity and unleashing the innovation within.
“They simply need to find new and better ways to tap into the brilliance, creativity and potential of their greatest asset, their engaged employees. Your disengaged employees will actually act as a hand brake on your efforts,” said Barnett.
If organisations don’t innovate, change and become more competitive at a faster rate than their average competitors, he said they will fall in the pecking order, profitability will sink and expose themselves to greater risks.
“The only way ahead is to become more competitive, differentiated and add extra value. Sure, technology and systems are important but the critical source and enabler of innovation and productivity is inside your organisation – it’s your employees,” said Barnett.
Accelerating productivity and innovation
The research report outlined five ways for improving productivity and innovation through driving greater employee engagement.
1. Senior leaders paint a picture of a compelling future. It is a fundamental role of leadership to paint a clear picture of a compelling future for their organisation and its employees.
This includes setting out a clear and inspiring long term direction (vision), purpose and strategy and the values that will guide the way. It will include identifying what it is about the organisation, its products or services that are special, unique or different from others. Painting this picture of a compelling future is a key driver of employee engagement.
2. Link employee roles and actions to the organisation’s overall goals. Another key driver of engagement is linking employee roles and every day actions to the organisation’s goals. This will ensure that employees understand exactly how their efforts and activities link to the organisation’s success. This will help add meaning and purpose to their jobs.
It is a fundamental human desire to do something meaningful and to feel worthy – as opposed to doing something meaningless and to feel worthless.
3. Develop employee skills and talents. Ensuring employee skills and talents are used to their full potential is one of the five main drivers of employee engagement. It is also one of the seven differentiators between high and low performance organisations.
Developing the skills and talents of employees creates a true win-win for the organisation and your employees. Some of the truly great companies are obsessed about developing and growing their employees, it becomes a crucial part of their culture and DNA.
4. Genuinely care for and support your employees. Demonstrating that you genuinely care for employees regularly comes out as the main driver of employee engagement.
The psychological contract is a critical notion for understanding the relationship between an employer and employee. It refers to the often unwritten expectations of an employee towards the employer. The psychological contract represents the obligations, rights and rewards that an employee believes he or she is ‘owed’ by his or her employer in return for the employee’s work and loyalty.
If employees perceive that this contract has been broken, their trust in and commitment to their employer will be diminished. Poorly thought out, implemented and ill-timed action by an organisation, particularly relating to major changes, can destroy years of mutual goodwill.
5. Build a high performance culture. Productivity and innovation are more likely to thrive if your organisation has been intentional about the way it has formed, shaped and evolved its culture to align well with its vision, purpose and strategy.
While individual accountability is critical for the success of organisations, a collaborative culture is more conducive to improving productivity and innovation. An environment where information and ideas are openly shared enables individual ideas to be built on and improved by others. Ongoing waves of productivity gains and innovation will be achieved.