Employee Engagement, Fad or Fundamental?

BY Michael Bouton
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In a recent Inc. article, Management Consultant Steve Tobak argued that employee engagement is NOT important to business. He called it the “management fad of the millennium” which made our team at Viatech Global cringe.

Employee engagement is one of the most important parts of your business.

As an established business, you have developed the majority of your products and services. While there are changes, the overall strategy, mission, vision and values have been established and implemented. Now you are handling internal and external customers, employees and managers.

Employees who are not engaged tell bad stories about your company.

Appealing, like Steve did in his article, to the bottom line orientation may appeal to some companies, in some situations. The reality is that companies seeking long term success and growth perform differently as proven in Good to Great and Firms of Endearment.

Take a look at the relationship between employee turnover and stock prices. In almost all, cases the companies with lower turnover have higher stock prices AND they receive better customer ratings.

Even bottom line thinkers understand the cost of hiring and training new employees; or they should. It costs $3,500 to hire and train an employee who makes $8 per hour. Over time, these costs add up and can be avoided by creating a workplace culture that engages and retains employees.

Over time, companies will experience three types of thinking and organizational culture: traditional, practical and intrinsic. Each experience helps a business learn and grow.

The traditional view is the old system approach fathered by Fredrick Taylor. Everyone is seen as a cog in a wheel and people are replaceable parts. This philosophy is dated in some respects, while in another, it creates great efficiencies within organizations. The problem is, when this is the only focus of a business, people will leave because they want to be valued.

The practical view is to look at people, and their skills and experience, in terms of how they can contribute to the success of the organization. There is a focus on results and processes, and an attempt to have the right people in the right place, for the highest productivity. This, like the traditional approach, still leaves out the passion for why people do what they do.

The intrinsic view goes beyond merely fitting people into defined workplace roles, based on their skills and experience. This approach recognizes that people will often do what they do for their own reasons. Communicating the mission, vision and values of the organization creates passion. The passion is translated into increased productivity and high-​level customer care. The employee is no longer just a cog in a wheel; they understand how their role impacts the larger organization. That is powerful to the bottom line!

It is for these reasons, Steve Tobak, that employee engagement is a vital part of doing business in today’s economy!