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The Big E: Engaging, Empowering and Enriching Employees For Increased Earnings

According to Gallup, more than two-thirds of American workers are not engaged or disengaged in their workplaces. In this article you’ll learn about the cost of disengagement, and 7-step process to engaging and empowering employees in your organization to improve the Big E. Its people that make things happen!

Dianne Durkin at Call Center Demo & Conference 2012:

Pre-1: Driving Business Results with a Culture of Trust Are you faced with the challenge of executing your company strategy and leading change within your center? True success in these areas requires a culture of trust, engagement, and empowerment. These attributes of a “Best Place to Work” contact center also improve attrition, absenteeism and ultimately service level and gross profit margin. In this half-day workshop, you’ll learn strategies to create a culture of engagement that results in seamless and timely implementation of change. NOVO 1 and Beryl Health will provide a roadmap showing how they have driven tangible business results by investing in culture to create a high-trust work environment.

"Workers have three primary needs: interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company." -Zig Ziglar.

In response to the brutal economic and workplace changes that occurred between 2008 and 2010, research by Gallup shows more than two-thirds of American workers are either not engaged in their workplaces – just putting in their time - or actively disengaged in their workplaces – unhappy and spreading their discontent.

Hewitt Associates conducted another research study about employee engagement in 900 organizations. It showed decreases in engagement on the rise. Below are the statistics from 2009 to 2010.

And what is the cost of disengagement?

  • Higher turnover rates.
  • Lack of ideas.
  • Weak leadership.

When people are disengaged, creativity and innovation become nonexistent. Productivity suffers because people are not in problem solving mode. They are watching the clock instead of coming up with new ways of doing things.

At the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) annual conference in June 2008, a leading research and consulting company, ISR, announced the results of a new global employee engagement study. Gathering surveys from over 660,000 employees from around the world, the data shows a dramatic difference in bottom-line results between companies with highly engaged employees and those with low levels of engagement.

The table below shows significant gaps in performance on net income growth and improvement in earnings per share (EPS) over a one-year period.

With these kinds of results, the importance of engagement is very apparent. So let us start.

How Do You Engage Employees in Every Economy?

It can seem overwhelming. That is why I break it down into seven steps, so that contact center leaders can clearly see how to make The Big E come alive in their organizations.

1. Ask, Listen, Engage

Avoid the dynamic of sending down the solution from on high. We have all been there when the “grown-ups” (aka, senior management) come back from a retreat and then spread the gospel to the “kids,” aka, the employees. The message is that management is telling employees what to do instead of involving employees in the process.

When you ask and listen, you understand the current status, and then you can engage your employees in the process for improvement.

Questions are the secret weapon. With this process, people feel listened to, they feel their input is valued; most importantly, it creates momentum for improvement. You will be amazed at the suggestions you receive, especially from the front line.

2. Develop the Focus and Strategy for Improvement

Now comes a critical step. It is great to listen; now it is time to take action on what you heard and learned. Compiling the information, categorizing it, analyzing it and putting a focused plan into action is imperative.

Prioritization is a key success factor. If you try to do everything, nothing will get done properly. Step 2 is all about laser-focusing on the key areas for improvement and developing a strategy to address them.

If you engage your employees in developing the purpose, vision and values, and creating the future, you have the foundation for improvement and growth.

When employees are involved, they will live the values, after all, they developed them and they will strive to achieve the vision. People generally like to set their destiny and strive to achieve it.

If employees do not know where you are going and what their role is in getting you there, why do they care?

3. Communicate the Plan to Address the Identified Major Business Improvements

Many organizations spend a lot of time creating complex communication strategies. Instead of going down that path, think of ways to paint the full picture for your employees. Communication only works when your managers and employees are communicating with each other. Communicating is a two way street.

When you communicate to your employees, make sure you are looking at the communication from their perspective. Be sure to answer the subliminal question in employees’ minds, “What is in it for me?” In addition, make sure people receive communication in the way you intend it to be. Remember, it is not enough to push the message out – people need to understand it.

4. Build Team Infrastructure to Develop Business Solutions

When you build your team infrastructure around the major business issues identified by the employees in step one, your employee engagement and empowerment become the stars of the show. Consider setting up cross-functional teams of six-to-eight individuals to solve the major business issue. By having a cross-functional group, you bring different skill sets to the table. The result? You have a better chance of addressing the issues more successfully.

A T.E.A.M. brings out the best in everyone because:
Ttogether Everyone Achieves More.

Sounds corny, but it is true. Ask anyone who has been on a high-performing team, and they will nod knowingly.

5. Communicate the Improvements that Will Be Implemented

I continually state, you cannot over communicate. With all the information overload in our lives, it takes a lot of communication for us to break through to our employees. Have you heard the communication adage: “Tell them, tell them what you told them, then tell them again?”

When it comes to communicating during any kind of change, those words ring true. Keep a consistent flow of communication, and people feel they are “in the know.” I have seen many times that the ongoing evidence of their company’s commitment to their satisfaction, career growth and personal development energizes employees.

6. Implement the Improvements

Nothing changes attitudes faster than when people see words take action. To hear: “This is the plan,” then to see their role in it and finally to see it live and in motion. That is powerful because it shows movement and tenacity, and that is an important part of Magnetic Leadership. The opposite is also true. If you announce plans and follow it with a deafening silence and no action, it is a clear message that nothing is happening. It is one of those things that make employees cynical because it happens so often. Break that notion, and show some motion!

7. Measure Results

A good friend of mine lives by the mantra: “What gets measured gets done.” And I could not agree more. Measuring is a commitment to look at what is working and what is not and puts your organization on a track of continuous improvement. Whatever the business issue, make sure you have identified the key measurement criteria that are appropriate for your industry. In addition to standard business measurements such as return on equity or growth in earnings per share, many companies also want to measure employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction and brand recognition.

With the above 7-step process, we have engaged and empowered employees to solve major business issues. We’ve achieved a number of goals, increased engagement, and thereby increasing earnings per share.

Good leaders provide corporate guidance and individual guidance. In doing so, they engage people in the corporation's success and in their own success. It's a Win-Win situation!

Dianne Durkin is president and founder of Loyalty Factor, a specialized consulting and training company that enhances employee, customer and brand loyalty for some of the nation’s most prominent corporations and many smaller businesses. Durkin has over 25 years experience in finance, direct sales, international marketing and training and development. Dianne’s proven expertise lies in helping companies quickly get to the core issues and outlining their impact on the organization’s profits, productivity and people. She authored The Loyalty Factor: Building Employee and Customer and Brand Loyalty. Her new book, The Power of Magnetic Leadership: It’s Time to Get R.E.A.L. shows leaders how they can transform their organizations, energize their employees and boost their bottom-line with Magnetic Leadership.www.loyaltyfactor.com. [email protected].@LoyaltyFactor.