The Year Of “People Power Transformation”

Written by Allan Steinmetz , Inward Strategic Consulting.

Power of People

A lot of facts and figures have been swirling in my brain over the last few weeks, and I have been trying to make some sense of all of it. This is what I’ve been hearing and reacting to:

  • A CEO recently shared with me that “Workplace Enablement” was critical to the success of business in the United States. “Attracting and managing people are key to business success”, he said.
  • Yet again, I read another piece of illustrative research that says employee engagement has not improved over the last six years and still hovers around 33%. This suggests that disengaged employee engagement is at 67%
  • A reporter called the other day and asked me about what topics should she focus on that would be relevant for a conference that they are pulling together. I suggested they look at purpose-driven cultures, reinventing their EVP, and examining their talents brand proposition
  • A prospective client asked me to justify the importance of employee engagement and demonstrate there is a tangible return on investment so that they can convince their CEO that employee engagement and being purpose-driven is a worthy investment for the future
  • Lastly, I attended a conference on employee experience, last week and heard the frustration of the attendees in their inability to get their leadership to focus on HR engagement initiatives and provide sufficient investment beyond giving it lip service. They exasperated, “how are we supposed to move the needle if they are not prepared to make the investment?”

To be sure, I don’t understand why management and organizations have not embraced workforce engagement the same way they have embraced TQM, process re-engineering or Six Sigma. In a recent study done by Gallup, which tracked employee engagement over six years, they suggest, “If American companies were simply to double the number of engaged workers from one-third to two-thirds, spirited employees would reverse our seriously declining national productivity”. Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity. Why are we having this discussion?

As I sat back and thought about these topics and boiled down all of these individual “symptoms” of employee engagement, I started to wonder. Should 2017 become the year of “People Power Transformation”? And if so, what would that look like?

To change the mindset of our people today, we need to start embracing fresh ideas and change our managerial hierarchical structures. We must embrace purpose-driven cultures that empower employees to be innovative and drive commitment and advocacy for the company’s strategy. Old ways and processes simply will no longer work.

Yes, these are simple words. However, there are some practical things that companies can “stop” doing and “start” doing to attain and achieve “People Power Transformation”.

Stop Doing

Start Doing

Treating employee engagement as a tactic with minimal strategic financial investment and people resources Trusting all the empirical research and make employee engagement and workforce transformation a high corporate strategic imperative
Don’t treat employee satisfaction as a surrogate for employee engagement. They are not the same Bring your management team up to speed in regard to employee engagement and the impact it can have on their bottom line and shareholder value. Demonstrate that companies who have high employee engagement perform better and reduce costs
Discard old methods of measuring performance of employee engagement that are irrelevant to the business strategy Develop a KPI for employee engagement that is tangible and tied back to your strategic business objectives
Stop using annual employee appraisal systems to measure employee engagement Transition over to continuous feedback and dialogue with your employees to track and measure employee engagement
Discard old employee value propositions that are no longer relevant to a millennial workforce Become purpose-driven and establish a culture that attracts and inspires your employees to become brand ambassadors
Don’t be tactical. Be strategic Develop a sequential engagement strategy that inspire, educate, motivate and engage your employees through novel tactical programming that captures their imagination and spirit
Don’t think of employees as “adversaries”. They should be part of your team and help resolve your challenges Established lines of open communications and allow your employees to collaborate, have input and innovate to achieve your strategic goals

As an 18-year old employee engagement, change management, cultural transformation, branding, and communications consulting firm, we believe we have a right to an affirmative opinion on this topic. We have worked with a broad array of clients from Fortune 500 global enterprises to start-ups, including global retailers, technology firms, electronics / networking, financial services, insurance, health care, manufacturers, automotive, professional services, restaurant and hospitality, energy, consumer packaged goods. We see that change is coming. And we plan to be part of it.

This article was originally published on Inward Strategic Consulting’s blog, March 9, 2017.

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