The Competitive Advantage of An Engaged Employee
If you asked a group of CEOs ‘what’s your competitive advantage?’, some will say building a superior quality product, while others may promote their robust business model. The majority though, are likely to say that their people are their advantage. Now, this may sound like an obvious response, the truth is, no matter how good your product may be, you will always need a great team to design and build it, optimise it, sell it and support it.
If employees are the secret ingredient in any successful business, then why do the leaders have a mindset to forget the significance of employees when it comes to their workforce? If people are one of the biggest assets of an organisation, they why is every leader not trying their best to position their employees for success?
Significance of the Engaged Employee
Companies which categorise as having good people practices always have a competitive edge which can be backed up by great results. Organisations which have made it to the list of “100 Best Places to Work” for three or more years in a row, continually outperform financial indicators.
Furthermore, organisations who have achieved high engagement scores are seen to perform much better in the major operational areas such as absenteeism, productivity, safety, quality, turnover, customer metrics, shrinkage, and profitability compared to the companies with low employee engagement scores. Hence, organisations these days are taking initiatives to boost employee engagement. It is, in fact, the number one strategic priority in most of the organisations.
Most organisations measure employee engagement in terms of how much “love” employees feel for and from the company by conducting an annual online survey. The survey typically asks questions about how the employees feel about their work, the company, and their co-workers. While employees have been responding to these surveys, there is something which is still not right. Gallup reports 30% of employees are actually engaged. According to the data, the disengagement rate which is even higher globally is costing the U.S. companies around 450-550 billion dollars every year. While many have tried to address the issue, unfortunately only a few have been able to truly address the issue. In order to get to the root cause of this issue, you need to look at the level of employee motivation and what makes them show up at work.
The Reason Why People Work
Most of the people work in order to fulfill and meet their basic needs. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, one of the accepted theories of human nature that rank highest is motivation. According to the order of importance, the list ranks as below:
- Physiological needs (food and shelter)
- Safety (security, employment, health)
- Love and belonging
- Self esteem, confidence and achievement
- Self-actualisation (creativity, problem-solving)
At the most basic level,employees work to have a roof over their heads and to have food on their table in order to fulfill their fundamental physiological needs. Moving further down the list, you will find that employment also helps to offer a sense of safety and security along with a steady income which helps to address the first two needs. It also drives the health of people since they are able to pay for their health-related expenses with the help of health insurance that is provided by their employers. This leaves us with the remaining aspects which are a little difficult to measure such as love, self-esteem, belonging, and self-actualisation. So do employers need to pay attention to these aspects?
The response is a definite ‘yes’. Even before the employees can become engaged, they first need to be in a state to be engaged. If the employees are stressed out, overwhelmed, or they feel unappreciated and disconnected, all their healthy habits are going to fly right out of the window.
Health and Engagement – A Close Relationship
Employees these days are putting their healthy habits on the back burner due to being time poor. When organisations expect their employees to be accessible 24/7, to do more with less, to respond to emails promptly, most employees instinctively sacrifice their personal priorities. With healthy habits on the backburner, it is impossible to remain engaged let alone thrive under such conditions. Employees skip a workout and hit the fast food chain for lunch, find their energy level drops and they are less motivated and less productive.
In order to drive employee engagement in the true sense of the term, you need to have the employees back in the driver’s seat of their lives so that they take care of themselves first. You need to make them feel that the company truly cares about and appreciates them by showing your support for healthy habits and help them to be their best selves. If your employees are feeling awesome and receive support in all areas of their lives, they are likely to be much more productive and will be ready to thrive. They will walk that extra mile beyond fulfilling their basic needs and will be better positioned to achieve the intangible yet critical needs as well. As an organisation, you should help your employees meet all of their needs and you will soon realiwe that you will find more focused, energetic, and driven employees around you who are more than kicked to come to work and give each day their best.