Every major corporation in the world is paying attention to employee engagement. There are good reasons for this. Engaged employees are more productive, provide better customer service, have less absenteeism, and are less likely to quit than their disengaged counterparts. There are many studies that support these findings. Here are a few.
- Northwestern University found that organizations with engaged employees have customers who use their products more, and increased customer usage leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction. (Cozzani and Oakley n.d.)
- Engaged organizations are 52% more profitable than their disengaged counterparts. (MacLeod and Clarke 2009)
- McKinsey & Company, in a global study of successful organizational transformations, identified co-creation, collaboration, and employee engagement as key success indicators. (McKinsey &Company 2010)
This growing body of research has caught the attention of leaders who are constantly seeking ways to improve their organizations. This research supports what they intuitively know: engaged employees make a difference.
If you are an OD practitioner, you are likely to come across employee engagement in one form or another in the course of your work. If your organization is starting a major change initiative or is seeking to create an engaged workforce, you are likely to be working with leaders who are asking the eternal management question, “How do I engage people in the purpose of the enterprise?” The answer is not easy. That is why Organization Development Practitioners must have the expertise to play an important role in helping leaders to address this issue.
Before we delve into this subject, however, let me propose a definition of our subject. The Conference Board, in a review of the various studies and approaches to employee engagement, developed this definition: “An employee can be considered engaged if he or she is intellectually stimulated and passionate about his or her work, and demonstrates that through his or her intended actions.” My own personal definition is: “engaged employees put their wholehearted selves behind what needs to be done”.