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Article -> Engaging Employees' Head, Heart, Hand

Date Added: June 2010

Note: This article appeared in the July, 7 2010 issue of The Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Most employees are not engaged at work. This creates inefficient, unproductive, and even toxic work environments. A recent Gallup survey indicated 67 percent of employees are disengaged or not engaged.

 

Engagement is different than satisfaction. Engaged employees understand how they add value to the organization, how their role fits into the strategic plan, have a sense of pride in their role and the organization, are connected to the mission, and are always willing to do what is necessary to help the organization and team succeed – with a positive attitude toward all internal and external touchpoints.

 

Satisfied employees simply like their job and do it well. They may not care as much about the strategic plan, organization’s mission, or always have a positive attitude toward everyone.

 

The difference is important as disengaged employees cost organizations $350 billion annually due to being unproductive, having low morale, etc. During a 12-month period, companies with high engagement levels outperformed those with less-engaged employees in operating income (19.2 percent to -32.7 percent), net income growth (13.7 to -3.8) and earnings per share growth rate (27.8 to -11.2).

 

Note the percentages for disengaged employees are negative percentages, resulting in the $350 billion (not million) in wasted cost for organizations.

 

What engages employees? According to employee feedback, it relates to three factors termed the 3 H’s (Head, Heart, Hand). Organizations must appeal to employees’ head via progress. Employees feel most engaged when they progress on a project, receive support from their leaders, or overcome obstacles to achieve success.

 

The second factor, heart, relates to development, recognition, empowerment, trust and autonomy. Does the organization effectively provide these to employees? Hand is the third factor, referring to allowing employees to do what they do best – leverage their skills and strengths.

 

While health benefits and compensation are often discussed; ultimately, employees state these are not the key engagement factors. Consider a recent raise or bonus… it made you feel good for a short time; however, it wasn’t as sustaining as head, heart and hand.

 

Disengaged employees cost organizations a lot of money. Engaged employees make organizations more successful. Shouldn’t leadership’s priority be to focus on employees’ head, heart and hand?

Fox, Adrienne. "Raising Engagement." HR Magazine, May 2010. pages 35 - 40.

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