Each year, disengaged employees draw between $450 and $550 billion from companies. This evidence outlines that a less-than-enthusiastic team goes far beyond damaging company morale and begins to take a toll on the bottom line.
To get a sense of how leaders are tackling this problem head on, we spoke with Rich Taylor, Head of Global Talent Development at Palo Alto Networks. When Taylor approaches his own productivity and professional growth, he borrows from Stephen Covey’s work -- specifically his four time management quadrants -- to create his own “Heat Map” where each of his projects is mapped out. If Taylor’s approach to his work is any indicator, it’s fair to say he is an expert in the world of talent development.
“Companies rise or fall based on the capabilities of their people”
“Companies rise or fall based on the capabilities of their people,” says Taylor. “Particularly in the fast-paced world of tech, what was outstanding last year is barely adequate now, and certainly won’t take you into the future. Companies that don’t develop their talent are accelerating their obsolescence.”
Why you should get serious about measuring employee engagement
According to Taylor, measuring employee engagement is a powerful way to make an abstract concept more tangible. “I help leaders understand that engagement correlates very highly with two things: 1) discretionary effort (people work harder than needed because they really care) and 2) intent to stay,” says Taylor. “If you want a dedicated, pro-active, productive workforce that sticks with you through thick and thin, you need to give them something to believe in -- engage their hearts and minds.”
Measure tips: How to know if you have disengaged employees
In many cases, underperforming and disengaged employees can be a tough dynamic to measure, but there are some ways that companies can understand how to measure employee engagement.
Companies can begin by looking at different types of measurement: “Soft’ measures include engagement, discretionary effort, and intent to stay,” says Taylor.
For companies that are interested in a deeper look at the issue, there are “hard” measurements to consider, like time-to-productivity per sales person, and the very real cost of unwanted turnover, according to Taylor. “
There are industry-standard metrics for each of these, but it’s really important to find the data for your own organization – in my experience this is extremely compelling to your leadership, who will then choose to invest. Create an internal dashboard, set baselines, and (hopefully) show the numbers going in the right direction each quarter.”
If you want a dedicated, pro-active, productive workforce that sticks with you through thick and thin, you need to give them something to believe in
Employee engagement surveys: what to consider first
The first step in creating a strong engagement survey is aligning your key stakeholders. “Make a clear case why the organization should do this, and what to expect during and after the process” recommends Taylor. “Ensure you have their commitment to act on the results – otherwise employees will become jaded and may believe their voice doesn’t really matter, and this will poison the well for future efforts.”
Once the initial buy-in is established, Taylor recommends keeping the survey itself short. “There are millions of things you might like to gain insights on, but the first time out of the gate should be crisp and super-focused.”
Important topics can fall under key categories that you want to learn more about -- things like Company Confidence, Alignment and Involvement, Leadership, and Feedback and Recognition, to name a few. “
If you’re using a third party provider, they will be able to give good advice and strong benchmarking capabilities,” says Taylor.