Typically employees have job descriptions and they are assigned to fulfill a certain function. Often these employees are integrated in a matrix organization where some process owners are assigned to the key value stream processes and support processes. Perpendicular to that you have the functions like Quality Control, Finance, Industrial Engineering, HR and so on. But, for example, what happens when problems in the processes occur which are extended over the local “horizon” of a single employee?
Typically in the first step the employee feels not responsible for that what is beyond his horizon or the problem will be escalated to a level until a responsible person is found to drive the solving of the problem. This also means that the problem solving moves far away from the place where it occurs and communication issues and bureaucracy will raise. In many cases also the employee is not involved in the ongoing problem solving process. This makes it not easy for the employee to except the outcomes of the problem solving activities. Adaption of potential new or modified processes will be faced with resistance by the employee, a typical behavior when something is changing.
Although this sounds not so dramatically in the first step, a Gallup study from Q4/2012 shows high impact on business performance when companies do not engage their employees. An estimation for the bottom line with low employee engagement reveals costs for the U.S. economy of roughly $370 billion a year.
Employee engagement affects nine performance outcomes. Compared with bottom-quartile units, top-quartile units have:
- 37% lower absenteeism
- 25% lower turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
- 65% lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
- 28% less shrinkage
- 48% fewer safety incidents
- 41% fewer patient safety incidents
- 41% fewer quality incidents (defects)
- 10% higher customer metrics
- 21% higher productivity
- 22% higher profitability
These are remarkable two digit numbers and every company should think about the opportunities a better or deeper employee engagement provides to their business and every single employee. One way to engage employees is to create a learning organization where processes are installed that allow harvesting employees ingenuity and energy. This can be done for example via a LEAN transformation of the organization and/or by creating an environment for innovation and innovative processes that allow people to be creative and focused. It is always better to develop and leverage your people capabilities by engaging them, rather than copying or buying solutions.