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May 11, 2011

New Multipliers for Employee Engagement

We’ve heard for years about how companies gain employee commitment by helping people balance the demands of jobs and personal time.  Now some new research suggests that’s not the only balancing act we should think about.

A recent study of 80 global companies by Towers Watson found the 24/7 work environment is the latest major challenge to employee engagement. Continuous demands from online collaboration and mobile technology actually require employees to behave differently and develop new competencies to manage their activity. Time management is critical, of course, but so is the ability to manage stress and transition smoothly between personal and work commitments.

Digging deeper to understand what influences discretionary effort among employees in a realm of constant demands and communication, the research found two additional “E” factors: enablement and energy. Like engagement, they flourish in environments that nurture and take care of employees.

Enablement happens when employees have what they need to work efficiently and effectively over time. Energy is generated by a healthful work environment that supports employees’ physical, social and emotional well-being. Notably, focus on the bottom line without consideration for employee needs can drain people’s energy and reduce discretionary effort.

Enablement and energy are found when individuals have clear expectations, experience positive and respectful dialogue, participate on effective teams, and have leaders who model “harmonious” behavior that reduces rather than compounds stress.

And once again the bottom line is clear. Further Towers Watson research on 50 companies showed that those demonstrating all three factors -- engagement, enablement and energy -- had operating margins three times those of companies with only one of the factors present.

In a world where opportunities and communications happen around the clock, we have to be even more vigilant about the demands on the people who matter most to our organizations.

How are you addressing these new multipliers?

- David Grossman

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