Why Improve Long-Term employee Engagement?

No doubt our clients are finding it more challenging to consistently improve business performance. The slow economic recovery and the continued disruption of existing business models are the source of these challenges. We help our clients improve long-term business performance by working with company leaders to develop new strategies and establish a competency in execution management. A key element of our client’s success in implementing a new strategy is the level of employee engagement in the development and execution of the strategy. Recent newsletters have focused on the benefits of employee engagement. (5 Ways to Increase employee Engagement and Business Killer: Employee Disengagement). Now, based on ongoing research from Gallup Inc., employee engagement can also be considered as a viable strategic alternative for improving business performance.

A strategy we are going explore in this newsletter, which was the subject of a recent HBR blog post by James Harter of Gallup, is improving engagement of long-term employees. This is an attractive strategy to improve performance at companies with large numbers of long-term employees (10+ year tenure). Based on the Gallup research, surprisingly long-term employees are more likely to be less engaged or actively disengaged in their work. The cause can be attributed to many reasons, but the result is they lose motivation to have an impact and create value for the organization. Therefore, a significant opportunity exists for companies that can prevent apathy and keep long-term employees engaged. High performing long-term employees outperform average employees by 18%. Gallup’s data indicates that highest performing employees in companies have these three components:

1. Tenure of 10 plus years – Beyond having deep professional knowledge, long-term employees know how to effectively navigate through an organization to get things done, leveraging years of collaborating with the same coworkers and teams. This kind of in depth knowledge cannot be replicated for years by a new hire.

2. Engaged in their work – Greater engagement makes employees more likely to use their experience productively. Long-term employees are significantly more satisfied and productive when four core needs are met (Schwartz & Porath):
     • Physical – Opportunity to renew and recharge at work.
     • Emotional – Feelings valued/contributions appreciated.
     • Mental – Self guided work.
     • Purpose – Derive meaning and significance from work

3. Jobs align with their strengths – Putting the right person in the right role. Gallup has found that 61% of employees are more likely to be engaged when managers are focused on developing employee strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses

The Gallup research found that only 5% of employees in an average company fulfill all three of these components, which suggests that acting on this strategy represents a significant strategic advantage. By retaining engaged long-term employees and focusing on their strengths, leaders can count on improved performance across their business – more sales, increased productivity and profitability, lower turnover, fewer accidents and higher customer engagement. Although this strategy will require a long-term investment of time and effort, the value created will be significant and sustaining.

Do you consider your long-term employees an untapped opportunity? We would be interested in your thoughts, so please email us. We’d like to hear from you.