Friday, May 2, 2014

End the (Employee) Engagement - it’s Time to get Married

The topic of “employee engagement” has been popping up a lot lately. I’ll be honest with you… and maybe it’s just because I took my “let’s be blunt” pills this morning… but most of the articles I read about employee engagement are… well… on the cheesy side. They remind us that it’s important for our employees to be engaged and urge us to give out our annual survey for employee feedback. Most of the advice is pretty basic and, well, common sense. … I mean… who doesn’t want their employees to be happy and engaged? Of course you should treat people with respect, recognize their contributions, and invest in training to grow the business.

I did come across an article though that caught my attention. It was a Forbes story by Josh Bersin called, It’sTime to Rethink the ‘Employee Engagement’ Issue. The author laments that employee engagement is often viewed as a simple “annual HR measure” and challenges us to think of it as a “continuous, holistic part of an entire business strategy.”

What was really great about the article is that the author noted that the world engagement itself fundamentally pigeon-holes our perspective and instead of trying to get our employees engaged, we actually want them married to our organization. In other words,  “fully committed.”

Employee turnover is particularly painful in manufacturing, especially because a lot of companies are experiencing the talent shortage in our industry. Earlier this year, the NIST MEP blog published an entry, “Saying ‘I Do’ toYour Workforce.” In this entry, referencing the talent shortage and current skills gap, the author quotes from an earlier Bersin article, Predictions for 2014, calling for ‘capability development’ for employees.

You hear that Michigan manufacturers? It’s time to swap the engagement ring out for the wedding ring. Go beyond engagement to full commitment, for both the employer AND the employee.

Our employees are our most valuable assets. Think of your top 5 employees right now – what would you do if they left? Some workers are going to leave for reasons out of your control – retirement, relocations, etc. What you don’t want is for your top talent to leave for preventable reasons. Think of the costs associated with replacing top talent such as advertising / recruiting costs. Then there’s the time associated with replacing top talent such as interviewing and training. And don’t forgot lost productivity as the new hires have to get up to speed on the job and the way your company does things. And most important, think of the company culture change associated with replacing top talent. Mitigate the cost of ‘divorce now, and keep your key personnel.

In addition to your annual feedback survey, here are some additional ways to transition your workers from fiancé to spouse:

  • Introduce Relaxation Initiatives in your Company - According to Natasha Withers from One Medical Group, "Rest, relaxation, and stress reduction are very important for people's well-being and health. This can be accomplished through daily activities, such as exercise...” Introduce something like a weekly “stress reliever time” for your employees to take a break and catch up.

  • Encourage more Employee Vacations: Families and Work Institute study found that "workplaces with greater flexibility are more likely to have employees who are more engaged, in better health, more satisfied with their jobs, and more likely to plan to remain on the job."

  • Secure “buy-in” on projects: When you implement improvement initiatives or major changes to your processes, make sure your staff feels included. When they understands why improvements are being made and how the changes benefit them, they feel more empowered and a part of the change process. This will help drive motivation and ensure sustainability. Job security is important. Let your employees know how shop floor improvements and market diversification helps secure their future.

  • Invite their suggestions on doing things different, better, faster: Who better to implement changes, improve work flow, or modify designs to reduce scrap than the people day in and day out doing the job. Reward good and cost saving suggestions by sharing a bit of the benefits. If someone saves you $50K a year with an improvement idea, consider sharing a small % of the savings with your employee. Improvements are contagious, and a fully committed workforce benefits everyone.

MMTC offers a variety of services including projects that will improve your workforce. For more information, click here to see a list of MMTC’s solutions or contact us at 888-414-6682

Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

1 comment:

  1. I could not agree more to this. Also by engaging with your employees will surely decrease attrition rate which is one factor of losing your business.