How to Gain Competitive Advantage Through Employee Re-Engagement

We had an interesting start to 2021 here at Boardroom Advisors, attending a variety of webinars, groups and listening to podcasts. Of particular interest was the clarity with which people spoke around engagement and culture, as if they had a secret that nobody else had discovered.

The more we learn about engagement and culture, the more we realise that meaningful differentiation is unique to each setting. Every group of people needs a different approach, however slight this may be.

What We Know Today

According to the latest statistics from Dale Carnegie and Achievers organisations with engaged employees:

  • Increase productivity by 17%
  • Boost profits by 21%
  • Lift sales by 20%
  • Improve employee retention by 24%
  • Reduce shrinkage by 28%
  • Improve customer satisfaction by nearly 10%

With subtle percentage shifts from country to country and through applied practice here in the UK the following statistics represent the opportunity ahead.

  • 68% of people are passively engaged. Working but not fully present. There in body, not in spirit.
  • 17% are fully engaged. Active. High performers. Advocates.
  • 15% are actively disengaged. These people are contributing nothing, or worse, undermining the efforts of others.

Let’s simplify this, using research into employee engagement conducted by Dr Stephen Smith over a decade ago. The figures read 60/20/20, so depending on how you view this, using the 80:20 rule there are 80% disengaged to varying degrees at any one time.

There Are Only Ever 20% Fully Engaged

As a business looking to turn demand into value by understanding what is going on beneath the data, we can solve more of the conundrum and create significant competitive advantage.

Look at it through a sales lens. If we manage to move the dial for 30% of those passively engaged/disengaged (20%), we can double the number of fully engaged high performers. Apply this to your sales figures and you will quickly see an example of how to make what seems intangible, tangible.

By acting on insights, the whole engagement dynamic can shift, moving the needle quickly. The lowest performers can become engaged to some degree, meaning the business improves revenue and employee satisfaction, while saving money on absenteeism and staff turnover.

How Do You Get People to Re-Engage?

The first thing to do is collect and analyse the data, to work out where and how the engagement culture is being most challenged.

Every engaged or disengaged employee is unique. Every business has a it’s own environment, and every team has a unique blend of personalities. The variation in energy alone can define success or failure.

This is an incredibly complex dynamic. Different things disengage different personalities. The will of a group can erode over time, unnoticed. Understanding this is the first step to re-engagement.

Most managers experience challenges with these dynamics. The need to deal with each personality type differently is difficult if you don’t know who you are dealing with. Many haven’t yet worked out how to manage themselves. Under pressure, people typically return to their own default way of working, managing and communicating.

How many people do you manage? How many managers do you employ at your company and how many people do they manage? How empowered are the people? To what degree do they feel valued?

People become disengaged over time. Without any data, people use intuition, or gut feel to navigate their relationships and it is impossible to identify a point in time when someone moved from an engaged to disengaged state. It is not a single event, but a series of small chips in the armour.

Testing Your Approach

Have you worked with, for, or managed people who do not volunteer their feelings or opinions freely? How do you avoid doing, or saying the wrong thing? If you are a manager, it is statistically likely that you have disengaged employees under your charge.

How have you tested your assumptions about your team, or your own performance? If you are performing well, how do you know for certain it is not more about the resilience of your people than your own contribution?

People are the greatest competitive advantage to an organisation when they are actively engaged and there has never been a more critical time to shift the mindset and skillset of managers to become more valuable when people need it most.

It takes courage to bring someone who is holding back and doing the minimum back into the game, but the cost of doing nothing is too high a price to pay.

At Boardroom Advisors we are committed to helping organisations create value.

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Written by: Tony W

Boardroom Advisor and a Performance Coach and Profiling Specialist with a 30-year history as a professional football manager, business leader and coach educator.