You’ve probably heard people say the phrase “your people are your greatest asset.” It’s a line frequently shared by HR leaders, often with good intentions. The idea is that business should be prioritising people investments and culture change in the workplace, because without people to provide services, and a supportive and creative culture required for ongoing innovation, businesses are unlikely to succeed. But at Reward Gateway, we don’t take this phrase at face value. We challenge it.
We challenge the idea because even though we know people are important, not all the employees currently working at your company are bringing your mission forward.
Every employee has differing levels of discretionary effort and intent to stay, and these affect their engagement and how much value they bring to your company.
There are many versions of the employee engagement quadrant, but we believe that it’s likely your employees fall into one of the following categories:
As the name suggests, these employees challenge almost all decisions made by leadership. They actively undermine any efforts to improve their own or other people’s productivity or processes, and tend to blame others when things go wrong. They thrive on disagreement and negativity and will happily speak badly about culture within the organisation without making any effort to improve it.
These employees have been around for so long they are part of the furniture. They might be reliable, but they may also be resistant to change and impede innovation. Often seen as “plodders”, these employees what is necessary to get through their day and nothing more. They only put in as much effort required to themselves instead of helping their colleagues or furthering the mission of the company.
These employees are bright, self-motivated, and driven to deliver high-quality work. While they are often highly engaged, they may only be for as long as it benefits their own interests. They often see their current role or company as a stepping stone, so they don’t consider the bigger picture or mission of the company, and can sometimes go rogue if decisions don’t suit them.
These employees not only enjoy their job and consistently deliver high-quality work, they’re loyal to the company and make decisions based on the long-term good and survival of the broader team or group. They focus on a constructive (not destructive!) approach to questioning management directives or current processes, and bring a positive attitude that brings up the people around them.
Of the four categories above, which group do you think is the most important asset for your business?
All businesses experience turnover, and some of it is necessary, so it’s likely that you have a proportion of your employees preparing to leave. Some employees (hopefully a decreasing number), may fall into the first two categories and active undermine or ignore your efforts to unite and connect your people to a greater mission.
That’s why we say that it’s engaged employees who are your greatest asset. The people willing to go the distance and make good decisions for the company and its clients, and are willing and capable of driving growth and innovation.
Changing your company culture can help grow more of its most important assets
Earlier this year, Gartner released findings from their Global Talent Monitor, noting that discretionary levels in Australia have dropped to 15.7% (a record low since 2014), alongside employees’ intent to stay, which has dropped by 8%. Employees actively seeking jobs have increased by 5.6%. Gartner’s findings pose a major challenge for companies seeking to establish a stable, motivated and productive workforce.
What’s a business leader to do?
Gartner’s recommendation is to implement a strong Employee Value Proposition (EVP) that focuses on what employees value most.
Employees don’t have stay fixed to a category. Companies can make decisions to positively influence Detractors and Stayers, and help grow the loyalty of the Go Getters in your team so that the majority of your workforce are Ambassadors.
Not sure where to start? Ask your people! Surveying employees to gain their input and feedback about areas for improvement is key. Gartner found that those companies who designed an EVP based on what their employees valued decreased the premium compensation needed to attract qualified candidates. The approach also has the potential to decrease annual employee turnover by up to almost 70%!
These are just a few suggestions to get you thinking about how to move the needle on employee engagement and start a cultural transformation within your organisation.
It’s not about turning every single employee into an Ambassadors — that’s highly unlikely. But you can start with one step and one change that can help shift the tide, and soon each teams will have engaged employees who are willing to do and give their best for the company’s success and growth - and those are the people who really are your company’s greatest assets.
Evan is one of our Employee Engagement Consultants. His passion for people means he is always leaning in to share, listen and learn stories form HR leaders around the country. To relax, you'll find him walking his dog and on the hunt for good food.
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