We are now into week three of ‘engagement month’ and slowly peeling back the layers of the engagement onion; and it hasn’t been without tears. As week one proved, people have strong views on the value of engagement – both positive and negative. The less favourable views seemed to reflect a frustration with a lack of meaningful action. The consensus was that it is what you do with survey data that really matters.
Week two explored the theme of action; focussing on the imperative for organisations to communicate effectively and for senior leaders to lead authentically. Without these critical pieces in play the role of HR, in enabling a highly engaged workforce, is made more difficult if not impossible. Prematurely, we found the conversation move to the link between engagement and performance – this week’s topic. The consensus of the group was fairly clear, that engagement is a prerequisite for sustainable high performance. So to re-mitigate this point seems less important than really getting under its skin.
Now for my disclosure – I work for Aon Hewitt. I have the pleasure of working with organisations to, not only measure engagement, but improve it. I work with organisations with high engagement, low engagement and everywhere in between. I can tell you a story of my own (anonymously of course!) about the link between engagement and performance. This involves correlation data for a large retail client at the store level. The data showed customer satisfaction was 6% higher for high engagement stores versus low engagement stores, and sales growth was $205,000 higher.
Also, organisations with high engagement just feel better. You can tell just by walking in the door that people are excited, aligned and willing to go the extra mile. Not because of their personal work ethic of bias, but because they genuinely want the best for the organisation they work for. And this is simply good for business. It is harder to put metrics around this but, for those of you who work for or with a highly engaging organisation, you are likely to empathise.
So this week’s questions:
Q1) What do we actually mean when we talk about ‘performance’ and its link to engagement? Are we talking individual, team or business performance?
Q2) What metrics do we use to measure the link to engagement? How does this validate (or not) the links between engagement and performance?
Q3) What evidence do we have (research or actual experience) of the link between the engagement and performance?
Q4) What do highly engaged, but under performing teams look like? Do they exist? Why?