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Employee Engagement:  How to Navigate the Most Difficult Economic Times Since the Great Depression
by Sonya Sullins

 
       
   

In this time of fear and uncertainty, morale has plummeted and productivity is down. Research conducted by the Corporate Executive Board reveals that 25% of Top Employees are looking for other opportunities (up from 10% last year) and 100% are in danger of being swept away by the competition...headhunters are on the prowl. The time is NOW to get your employees committed and focused. Keep your top-performing superstars, and build their engagement and morale. Read on to see what the experts are saying and what you should do about it.

“…The time to build your retention is not some other time.  It is now.” 
                           
Experts suggest that now is the time for providers to focus on building their reputation as a “good place to work” – to attract qualified new hires, but even more so to cement the mutual commitment with existing employees. 

Glenn Maul, senior VP of HR for Brookdale Senior Living states, “The time to build your retention is not some other time.  It’s now.”

Our economy has created a situation that at first blush looks like a boon to employers.  The ALFA Career Center and Senior Living providers report receiving almost double the number of applications for each position than one year ago.  Conversely, ALFA and senior living providers also report that many applicants have little or no direct experience, and are just looking for any job they can get.  Obviously, this creates a bigger challenge for HR to sift through the masses and select the best from the rest. 

Maul says, “Even though there are more applicants, I won’t say there is a significant increase in people we’d hire.”  Have you evaluated your hiring practices lately?  What percentage of new hires turn out to be superstar employees?  What percentage turns out to be “bad apples”?  Human Resources must be all the more diligent in hiring practices.  A miss-hire becomes “turnover”, costing the organization hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

Do a quick calculation on how much turnover is costing your organization:

  • Entry-Level Employee = cost 30%-50% of the annual wage

  • Professional (exempt) Employee = cost 150% of the annual salary

  • Executive-Level Employee = cost 300%-500% of their annual salary

*Research from Columbia University and SHRM

How Important is Employee Engagement?

“…Employee engagement is the cornerstone of achieving a sustainable competitive advantage.”  Lee Colan, Ph.D. author of Engaging the Hearts and Minds of all your Employees
The Gallup Organization, and Colin, describes employees as Engaged, Disengaged, or Actively Disengaged. 

An Engaged Employee looks forward to work and sometimes cannot believe he or she is being paid for the job that is so enjoyed.

A Disengaged Employee is “punching the clock”, but leaves their energy and passion elsewhere.

An employee who is Actively Disengaged is described by Colin as someone who is a “silent killer and a cancer growing under the skin of your team.”  These individuals react as a source of unfulfilled needs and feverishly sabotage every possible accomplishment. 

Where Do Your Employees Rank on the Engagement Meter? 

  • Only 26% of employees are Engaged in their work at any given time
  • Sadly, 74% are either indifferent to their work or Actively Disengaged

Employees who are “highly engaged” produce:

  • 38% higher customer satisfaction scores
  • 22% higher productivity
  • 27% higher profits
  • 39% higher employee retention

*As reported by Gallup Organization

The Tell-Tale Signs of Disengagement…Does your organization Suffer from any of these signs?

  • Increased turnover
  • Missed deadlines
  • Low morale
  • Increased customer complaints
  • Increased W/C claims
  • Higher absenteeism
  • Call-in’s and No-show’s
  • Lack of accountability
  • Lack of responsibility
  • Quality issues
  • Low productivity
  • Gossip and conflict
  • Low retention of high performers

Losing Super Star Employees Really Hurts.  

In this time of fear and uncertainty, morale has plummeted and productivity is down.  Research conducted by the Corporate Executive Board reveals that 25% of Top Employees are looking for other opportunities (up from 10% last year) and 100% are in danger of being swept away by the competition…headhunters are on the prowl. 

The time is NOW to get your employees committed and focused.  Keep your top-producing superstars, and build their engagement and morale.  Transform your average employees into Top Employees.

What is the Solution?

It is clear that disengaged and actively disengaged employees pose a risk to any employer, negatively affecting nearly every facet of your organization, including occupancy, resident care, customer devotion and, of course the bottom line. 

The solution is to commit to a Culture of Engagement.  Engaged, and engaging, leaders will coach good employees to become superstar employees and more fulfilled people.  The challenge is often how to carve out the resources necessary to achieve this.  Employ the help of experts to spearhead your cultural transformation, and take the ball and run with it from there.

Consider this from Colan, “This is a high-tech world, but leadership is a high-touch job.  When people go to work, they don’t leave their hearts at home.” 

Human beings - you, me and everyone who has a job - has needs that must be met in order for them to feel engaged and stay productive at work.  Don’t lose sight of one critically important asset – your Human Capital.

Invest in developing your managers.  Each needs to value, appreciate and develop his or her employees. 

“Money rarely compensates for a manager or management team that does not know how to carry this out,” says Julie McClactchey of Employee & Family Resources.  I agree with Julie.  Experience in my own practice , as well as mountains of research, suggest managers consider the following:

  • Offer regular positive statements to employees about their performance
  • Provide opportunities for learning and growth, including opportunities for ongoing professional development
  • Make performance expectations realistic and clear
  • Make clear the connection of each employee’s contribution to the greater purpose – to mission.
  • Take time to listen to concerns and ideas
  • Explain why decisions are made, versus handing out directives
  • Allow employees to take part in decision-making

In summary, “…The time to build your retention is not some other time.  It is now.” 
                           
Don’t waste any more time.  Focus on building your reputation as a “good place to work” – to attract qualified new hires, but even more so to cement the mutual commitment with existing employees.  Come out of these turbulent times on top!


       
   
 
       
   

The Author

Sonya Sullins

Sonya Sullins is the founder of Human Capital Management Institute, LLC.  HCMI programs and principles enable organizations to make the most of the superstars they have, gain the attention of the superstars they don't employ (but would like to), and effectively manage poor performers.

The key is Employee Engagement - without that, you will struggle to sustain maximum profitability, especially in this challenging economic environment.

Our focus is on leveraging and maximizing human capital (the talent, education, strengths, skills, etc. of your workforce).  We specialize in increasing Employee Engagement.  Engaged employees result in increased Retention, Productivity and Customer Devotion.  Organizations with highly engaged employees increase their profits, on average, by 27% (based on Gallup University research and as evidenced by outcomes),

HCMI is adept at identifying and implementing the crucial elements of Cultural Transformation and aligning human capital initiatives with organizational strategy.  As a speaker, consultant and writer, Sonya inspires senior executives and their teams to shatter the illusion that success, measured by aligning people with profit, is not possible.  Let Sonya be your trusted advisor, using visionary leadership and her corporate experience to help you exceed your goals, and transform your organizational culture.

Contact us now at 877-HUMAN10 (877-486-2610) or 608.279.0691
Email:  SonyaSullins@hcmi.info
Visit us:   http://www.HumanCapitalManagementInstitute.com

 
       
   
 
       
   
Many more articles in The HR Refresher in The CEO Refresher Archives
 
       
   
 
       
   
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Copyright 2009 by Sonya Sullins. All rights reserved.

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