The Big Three
Business Culture + Employee Retention + Engaged Employees
High performing companies that have continued growth, high retention levels and engaged employees do exist today. These companies realized the commitment they had to make at the leadership level and the necessary steps required to move their organizations to a higher level of performance.
They also understood it was an ongoing process without end. It would continually evolve, touch and involve every employee at every level within the organization. It would take on a life of its own. It would require the leaders to do the heavy lifting by being engaged with all employees and being the example for others to follow. They believed it was possible to have engaged employees, high retention rates and a thriving culture where people enjoyed what they did and the people they worked with. It is still possible today to those willing to take the necessary actions.
For several years, business leaders across the country have been discussing and working to improve in the areas of employee engagement, improving retention rates and creating a highly productive and positive business culture.
A 2015 DeLoitte Survey showed culture, employee engagement and employee retention were the top challenges facing business leaders. Over half of those business leaders rated these issues as urgent, which was up over 20% from the same survey taken it 2014. Many still face these same challenges today.
A business culture reflects the personality of the business and the business is a reflection of its people and its people is a reflection of the organizations leadership. Business culture is an evolving set of collective beliefs, values and attitudes that has a direct impact on the strategic direction of the business. More importantly, the overall performance of the business is directly related to its culture.
Engaged & Disengaged Employees
Business culture is directly related to a high percentage of engaged employees. Gallup Research results regarding the condition of the workforce related to employee engagement is very revealing. Only 31% of the employees are engaged at work, 51% are disengaged and 18% are actively disengaged.
An engaged employee describes someone who has an emotional commitment to the organizations goals and values. They don’t just work for a paycheck or promotion. They will do the little extra things without being asked and when no one is watching. They will sweat the small details because they share in a belief of the common good.
The disengaged (51%) group have checked out. They are simply putting in their time without any energy or passion for their work. They are not good for the business as they become toxic and cause others to become dissatisfied. They will eventually move from apathy to bitterness and resentment.
The actively disengaged (18%) are they greatest threat and they are toxic. They are unhappy and will act it out. They will undermine the energy and productivity of the engaged coworkers.
Retention & High Cost of Failure
The USA Today commented on the various research regarding employee engagement by writing, “Despite all of the information available about how to engage employees, employers consistently fail to do a good job.” And the failure comes with a great cost to a business and in the form of costly turnover.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics state that the average turnover cost for an American citizen earning $18.38 per hour ($38,230 per year) is $22,087 or 57% of the annual wage. The same report stated the average American Manager or Administrator who earns $32.34 per hour ($67,267 per year) will have a $38,342 cost of turnover. Other cost of turnover studies for mid level managers show the cost being much higher than this data at the manager level.
In Missouri, a study by the University of Missouri Extension reported the replacement cost of a $7.65 per hour minimum wage employee was over $5,000.
As I have written before, turnover can be planned and unplanned. It can be good or bad. Sometimes change is needed and even welcomed. It can create an opportunity to select, place and develop employees who are enthused about the company.
So how do companies of all sizes begin the path of improvement. It starts with what the leaders really want and what they are willing to do to get it. The difference is found in accepting mediocrity or reaching for organizational excellence. Let’s examine the differences.
Several years ago, I had become friends with US National Track & Field Hall of Fame inductee and former Olympic Gold Medalist Madeline Manning Mims. She is a person who never “settled for good enough” or accepted “average” in anything she did. She was always reaching higher and working to be better at anything she did.
One evening she shared something with me that I will never forget. She looked me in the eyes and said, “Don’t ever settle for mediocrity in any area of your life. Not in your ministry, not in your work, not in anything you do. Always strive for EXCELLENCE.” We had more conversation about that topic several times. And just like professional athletes, businesses have to make a choice to reach for excellence.
Mediocrity or Excellence – You Choose!
To understand the difference and how they apply to our lives and business lets define them. The Webster dictionary defines Mediocrity as, “the quality of something that is not very good; does not have the special ability to do something well. An average quality.”
And Cambridge defines it as, “a person or organization that is not very good at something. Average, adequate and medium, a middle state.” I think of it as being luke warm. Not hot. Not cold. Not good!
However, Excellence is defined as “a measure of consistently superior performance that surpasses any expectations without demonstrating significant flaws or waste. It is meeting all obligations and continually learning and improving in all spheres to pursue the moving target.”
When applied to business, organizational excellence refers to ongoing efforts to establish an internal framework of standards and processes intended to engage and motivate employees for a particular purpose. It continues the progress established by a foundation in which all levels of the organization participate in continual improvement.
Moving a business to a higher level of performance is a multi step process. It requires engaged, dedicated leaders accountable to the execution of workforce development at all levels of the organization. It will require engaging outside assistance and a commitment to “Make It Better.”
Former Campbell Soup CEO Doug Conant said, “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.”