"Closing the Engagement Gap” with Towers Perrin

Towers Perrin just released a new book: Closing the Engagement Gap – How Great Companies Unlock Employee Potential for Superior Results.

I’ve heard more than a few stressed company leaders say in the last few months, “I don’t need to hear any more about employee engagement. I’m too focused on staying ahead of the curve in this recession.”

That’s a very short-sighted view. Getting your employees more fully engaged – willing to give additional discretionary effort to get the job done – is more critical now than ever. To rebuild productivity and win the war between good vs. bad morale companies in this psychological recession will prove to be a strong competitive advantage today and when the market turns.

Some of the insights Towers Perrin bring are particularly useful:
With virtually all businesses facing significant economic challenge today, pressure is mounting to reduce costs and improve financial results while maintaining or increasing productivity across the board. So how do leaders keep employees focused and productive in these uncertain times? … The answer lies in building and sustaining an "engaging" work environment that consistently inspires people to devote the time, skill and effort necessary to keep their organization delivering bottom-line results.

While the Eight [companies highlighted in the book for successful engagement] differ in many respects, they are united by their recognition that engagement is a way of life and operating style, not a program or "initiative du jour."

"We consistently found that organizations and managers get the best from employees when they do five things well: know them, grow them, inspire them, involve them and reward them," said [co-author Julie] Gebauer.

In addition to identifying best practices at some of the most engaging companies around the world, the book also calls out serious missteps leaders and managers should avoid.

"When considering the factors critical to profitability and success, particularly in the current economic climate, organizations often make employees the 'forgotten stakeholder.'" said [co-author Don] Lowman. "To capitalize effectively on the potential innovation and productivity of a workforce, organizations must put their employees under the same microscope and hold them in the same esteem as they do their customers. Leaders must take the time to learn what unlocks their employees' discretionary effort and desire to contribute."

Making recognition a “way of life” is simply another way of saying “creating a culture of appreciation” in which no one is forgotten and everyone has an equal chance to be recognized for their efforts and to recognize their colleagues as well.

What are you doing to increase employee engagement today? Are you allowing engagement, appreciation and recognition initiatives to be sidelined by short-sighted “cost cutting” or are you and your team ensuring your employees are willing to give the discretionary effort you need now more than ever? Tell us what’s going on in your world and how you’re managing it and be sure to take our weekly poll.

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