For the past few weeks, I was writing on how scientific and business research shows that human thoughts and beliefs have an effect on the physical world. In this article, I am going to explore further on organizations that are increasingly embracing employee engagement as an important organizational goal to greater profitability and discuss how effective that is.
In the recent years, employee engagement has emerged as an accepted and significant indicator of the degree to which employees are enthusiastic about and satisfied with their work and the business for which they work. It includes elements that may be classified into two categories: 1) job satisfaction and 2) high performance practices. Job satisfaction pertains to employees’ level of contentment with compensation, job security, and management. High performance practices pertain to the degree to which employees are involved in making the business successful through process improvement initiatives and participative decision making.
There is a wealth of evidence showing that when employees are fully engaged, the company experiences a greater level of financial success. Employee engagement has three related components: a cognitive, an emotional, and a behavioral aspect. The cognitive aspect of employee engagement concerns employees’ beliefs about the organization, its leaders, and working conditions. The emotional aspect concerns how employees feel about each of those three factors and whether they have positive or negative attitudes toward the organization and its leaders. The behavioral aspect of employee engagement is the value-added component for the organization and consists of the discretionary effort engaged employees bring to their work in the form of extra time, brainpower and energy devoted to the task and the firm.
In a study published in 2003, researchers investigated the causal relationship between employee engagement and business profitability by measuring the individual elements of employee engagement over eight years and then correlated them individually with financial success over that same time period. They found that satisfaction with compensation, job security and management don’t drive, or precede, higher profitability, but rather higher profitability causes, or precedes, higher satisfaction with these elements. In contrast, researchers found that high performance practices do cause higher profitability. In other words, when businesses significantly involve employees in decision making and improvement initiatives, this causes an increase in profitability, and this is the only element of employee engagement that causes higher profitability. Therefore, if you are aiming to improve financial performance by improving employee engagement, you should focus on high performance practices. However, this is not the whole story.
It has been suggested that people who are very satisfied are not necessarily high performers, and with the constantly changing business environment, employees who are too happy and content, feel less inclined to seek improvements, change, or do things differently. In today’s climate, this tends not to be a good position for any business; rather, a company needs staff that is energized, motivated and eager or willing to try something new.
Recent physics research presents evidence that is difficult for many people to accept, yet it is undeniable. As explored in my earlier articles, conditions in the physical world are being directly influenced by the contents of our thoughts, beliefs and intentions. The impact of intentionality is especially relevant to employee engagement.
Intentions are a projection of awareness toward a particular result with the belief that the outcome can be influenced. Scientific experimentation has overwhelmingly proven that human intentions significantly influence events so that they are more likely to occur in the direction of the intentions. [See my earlier articles on how this works in business.] Experimentation has provided solid evidence that group intentions can change conditions in the physical world; for example: biological systems in insects, pH level of bodies of water, and the health of cancer patients, to name just a few.
When employees are highly involved in making a business successful, they develop a feeling of ownership for the business. The success of the business becomes an extension of their personal success, similar to the way a parent would feel about the success of their children. In other words, the employee develops strong intentions for the success of the business. My premise is that when businesses significantly involve employees in making a business successful, this causes employees to have strong intentions for the business to succeed. These strong intentions then cause conditions in the physical world to be more favorable for the business, which results in the business being more profitable.
The business research tells us that employee involvement in running the business leads to higher profitability, and scientific research tells us that employee intentionality for success leads to greater profitability. So it’s logical to conclude that the real strength of employee engagement is that it causes employees to feel emotionally responsible for the business, which initiates high levels of intentionality for success.
Willing employees are a benefit to any organization, but engaged employees go that bit further; they feel more committed to the business and its customers; they take unbidden initiatives to do things better; they find it a pleasure to go to work. And that performance-enhancing goodwill will be strongest when it comes from a number of sources, namely:
· when they understand the company’s goals, and what they can do to contribute to them every day,
· when they know just how to please their customers, whether inside or outside the business,
· when they can take a pride in their increasing skills year by year,
· when they see making continuous improvements as just part of the job, and
· when they can share in the financial success of their company.
It’s important to note that maximizing intentionality takes more than just involving employees in decision making and process improvement. It requires getting everyone to feel a genuine responsibility for business outcomes, which begins with a leadership style that is rarely practiced yet, highly precious.
If you have high engagement but low profitability, you are much better situated to recover than if you have a staff of satisfied underperformers. A high-profit business with low engagement scores is a mansion built on sand.
Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.