In today’s economic uncertainty employee engagement is critical. Organizational engagement surveys are showing that employee frustration is accelerating as engagement plummets. They feel trapped. With higher unemployment rates and tight job markets, many people on the frontlines — especially those with less specialized skills — are clinging to jobs they don’t enjoy.

Employee Frustration is acceleratingEmployee engagement is getting more attention from managers as the evidence of its effectiveness continues to pile up. As with many leadership and culture tools and techniques, too many managers are “doing their engagement thing” by asking their HR professionals to run engagement surveys. When the dismal numbers come in, executives often make token changes, such as maybe giving quick “sheep dip” in leadership training for supervisors and managers.

The global consulting firm, Towers Watson’s 2011 study The Power of Three: Taking Engagement to New Heights shows “engaged employees outperform their non-engaged coworkers … a growing body of evidence over the past decade validates the quantifiable relationship between levels of organizational engagement and financial performance.”

But engagement is really just the tip of the culture iceberg. In highly effective organizations, engagement is part of a deeper set of leadership values and approaches that also includes enabling and energizing:

  • Engaged –attachment to the organization and willingness to give extra effort.
  • Enabled – a work environment that supports productivity and performance.
  • Energized – individual physical, social, and emotional well-being at work.”

This is about organizational culture. Towers Watson found that the exponential boost of this more integrated peak performance culture is huge:

“We found that companies with the combined impact of all three exponential engagement factors can generate operating margins three times higher than companies with low engagement, and nearly two times higher than companies with high engagement alone.”

Yet more evidence that we need to move beyond using engagement as a bolt-on program and make it a built-in part of leadership values and culture.