The business-scape has shifted, as it is wont to do over time, amid great economic shifts, and as technology advances. So, let’s take a look at this era’s three pillars of a high performance organization (HPO): employee engagement, customer loyalty, and business outcome.
This combination may differ from those of your father’s generation, but with every evolution of the pillars comes a stronger, more profitable and competitive edge. Hence, it’s wise to keep up with which pillars you should use today to lift your company upward.
Fortunately, the current three pillars will remain the same for the foreseeable future. Build them now and they’ll last for years. We know this because businesses have deployed these same three pillars before and enjoyed success for decades because of them. Why did businesses ever replace them then? Because companies came to believe that they could use cheaper replacements and that worked fine during the recession but they did not, alas, have staying power.
So are we just bringing these pillars out of storage, dusting them off, and erecting them in place again? Not exactly as they too have evolved in step with the technological drumbeat.
While three pillars must be of equal size and strength, or else the organization would surely come tumbling down, there is a reason employee engagement is listed first: namely because it is the load –bearing pillar.
You’re familiar with load-bearing beams and walls in buildings right? While they may look like the other beams or walls, in fact identical in every way, their service is more vital and their placement more strategic. If when remodeling a building you remove one, the whole structure, or at least a sizeable portion thereof, falls immediately.
That is exactly the case with employee engagement. Without employee engagement, the other two pillars cannot bear the load. Obviously, something similar could be said of the other two pillars for where would you be without customer loyalty and positive business outcomes? The difference is that employee engagement is the core element in the other two pillars as well since you cannot develop customer loyalty without the assistance and care of employees. Neither can you have a good business outcome without their works.
Engaged employees go the extra mile in their jobs which leads to connecting and servicing customers well and hence the emotional attachment that leads to loyalty forms. Those two things lead to good, if not great, business outcomes.
Now, it’s important to understand that employee engagement has its own supporting structures, i.e. pillars of its own. It’s important to get those right too. Specifically, those pillars are:
HR data-based initiatives that directly affect business outcome.
In other words, high performance organizations turn HR data into actionable information. Such enables employers to strategically place individual employees where they will perform best and benefit the company the most. HR leaders also use analytics to drive performance and to anticipate future training and retention actions. Further, the overall approach treats employees like the assets they are and thus seeks to protect the company from employee poaching by competitors.
Motivation beyond money.
Multiple studies, most notably those done by MIT, show that while all employees are interested in making more money, it is only the prime motivator for employees engaged in mechanical, repetitive, and unimaginative tasks. For true innovation to occur, and for employees to feel compelled to take initiative on their own, they must be afforded autonomy, mastery and purpose. These three things drive employee engagement to maximum levels and form the bonds of company loyalty which is central to all retention efforts.
HR availability and responsiveness.
Employees are largely forgiving of payroll errors and benefit snafus as long as an employer’s HR people are highly available, able, and affable. In other words, if an employee has a pleasant experience including quick resolution of problems, the employee feels more emotionally bonded to the employer. If you are using only self-service or handing out toll free numbers and urls to an HR outsourcer, you lose this important means to engaging employees to the company’s benefit.
While high performance organizations all demonstrate each of these points, they also remember that the process is never-ending. If a company ever believes its pillars are as strong as they can possibly be, it will decline quickly. Like an athlete, every company must continue to strive for an ever better performance in employee engagement, customer engagement, and business outcomes if it is to grow and succeed.
Pam Baker is the author of eight books and hundreds of technology articles published daily in leading online and print publications. She is a member of the National Press Club (NPC) and the Internet Press Guild (IPG). You can reach her or follow her on Twitter and on Google+.