Gallup recently studied employers who have a high percentage of employees 'actively engaged' versus employers who don't. Not surprisingly, they found the big difference was companies that provide lip-service to good management versus those who challenge themselves to constantly improve.
I've paraphrased the 7 differences:
- Involved, curious leaders who want to improve
- Terrific HR departments
- Healthy culture first, mission second
- Don't let economic downturn be an excuse
- Trust, hold accountable, support the managers
- Straightforward, decisive approach to performance management
- Don't pursue engagement for its own sake
The one which surprised me was No. 3: Healthy culture first, mission second. My observation is that most companies looking to increase employee engagement try to start with a compelling mission. Gallup points out there are hygiene issues that need to be addressed first. You can't act on a great mission if you have a terrible manager.
Gallup Business Journal: Seven Things Great Employers Do (That Other's Don't), 2014-Apr-15 by Peter Flade, Jim Harter, and Jim Asplund
Ensure the basic engagement requirements are met before expecting an inspiring mission to matter. When employees know what is expected of them, have what they need to do their jobs, are good fits for their roles, and feel their managers have their backs, they will commit to almost anything the company is trying to accomplish. Conversely, if these basic needs are not met, even the most exalted mission may not engage them. People simply don't connect with proclamations of mission or values -- no matter how inspiring these might sound in the head office.