Is a 100% Engaged Workforce a Myth?

Having an engaged workforce is more than a “nice-to-have”; it’s essential for the success of your organization. However, achieving 100% employee engagement company-wide is a daunting – and somewhat unrealistic task no matter how much is invested. Let’s explore why employee engagement is crucial and a targeted approach that helps maximize your return on engagement investment.

Many benefits of investing in employee engagement are known but there are a few that are often overlooked such as:

    • Engaged employees are more likely to publicly share and represent a positive company image, which gives you a competitive edge in the market for talent.
    • Enhanced overall customer/client experience resulting from longer tenured and retained employees

Keep in mind that employee engagement goes beyond measuring individual satisfaction through surveys; it’s about finding the right balance between your organization and your employees. In today’s environment where business operations are leaner than ever, companies strive for efficiency and flexibility. However, this often leads to 1) less experienced staff and 2) managers with smaller teams having to primarily become do-ers, putting engagement at risk for both individual contributors and leaders.

Imagine the return on investment if you took a more targeted approach to improving engagement by starting with improving the engagement of the role cohorts with the greatest financial returns.

Targeting Engagement Initiatives through Talent Segmentation

You’ve probably heard the mantra: “You need a fully engaged workforce to run a successful business.” While we agree that engagement drives success, achieving full engagement is an unrealistic goal. As a leader with limited resources, you know that engagement initiatives aren’t free. Investing in engagement across the board takes time, energy, commitment and of course some money.

So, if employee engagement is essential for success, but demands more resources than your business can afford, where can you find a happy medium? While employees will always have access to foundational engagement elements, the key is not to aim for a fully engaged workforce but to focus on critical role cohorts within your organization. By segmenting your talent and defining role cohorts, you can identify the most significant opportunities for improvement. For example, cohorts can include but are not limited to leaders, teams, or demographic groups.

Once you have identified the key cohorts, prioritize them based on the financial impact that can be realized through increased engagement levels. Once you have selected a key role cohort, you can take deliberate action to boost their engagement, knowing that it will have a critical impact on your organization’s finances and operations.

Understanding Engagement and Prioritizing Your Actions

Once identified, the next step is to understand the engagement needs of the key cohorts. Naturally, they have basic needs such as compensation, benefits, and role requirements, as well as experiential needs related to their day-to-day interactions with the organization, leaders, and peers. Additionally, they will have inspirational needs, which involve connecting to the employer through a sense of purpose and prospects. You can think of engagement needs as levels of a pyramid. To create an environment where employees can reach the inspirational level, you must address their fundamental and experiential needs:

You most likely have plenty of tools to measure engagement and collect data. But sorting through the noise within the heaps of engagement data is crucial. Tools like an Engagement “Heat Map” can help you quickly identify areas of risk within your key cohorts: By sorting engagement data into talent interactions at each level of the Talent Experience Pyramid, you can quickly pinpoint areas that need attention.

Once you have identified perception levels, you can create an informed action plan. But be careful – it can be easy to hone in on negative feedback and perceptions that make up high risk areas, especially if the feedback is unexpected. Addressing all levels of perception is key to maximizing ROI on your investment in engagement initiatives by: 1) addressing negative perceptions head-on, 2) turning moderate perceptions into positive ones and 3) defending and maintaining the positive perceptions.

Remember, employee engagement is a powerful tool that drives productivity and reduces turnover, leading to real financial impact. By identifying key role cohorts and assessing their engagement levels, you can implement targeted engagement strategies where they matter most.

Written by: Kathleen Gioffre and Mark Slotnik

About the Authors:

Kathleen Gioffre is the embodiment of leadership, knowledge, and respect in her field. As a strategic Talent Advisor and Human Capital Practice Leader of Gioffre & Ransford, she offers clients expertise in all facets of Talent Management, grounded in her more than 25 years of experience building teams and infrastructure for some of the most recognizable companies in the world.

Mark Slotnik has spent nearly 20+ years advising clients in the areas of designing and taking to market high-value business solutions, solution portfolio management, talent development, resource management, business process re-engineering and commercial software.  

Leave a Reply