How do your people feel – significant or insignificant?
The recent“Corporate Citizenship” conference revealed a surprising level of connection between those who do good and a range of productivity and financial measures. It presented significant research into reputation, volunteering, contribution and all-round wellbeing. The impact of these on financial health was demonstrated with business example after business example, both New Zealand and Australian, which showed how those who do good feel good and work even better.
Often we assume staff who appear to be busy, are; who appear to be trying, are; who appear to be giving their best, are. But are they really? Or is there a significant amount of discretionary effort, commitment and ‘smarts’ that is buried somewhere?
All too often, we rob people of that all important motivator – significance. Decades ago, Tom Peters reminded us that a human being will not sell their lives for any sum but will give it freely for a compelling cause. Giving and helping others is hardwired in our brains. Giving stimulates the same reward centre in the brain as receiving.
The conference explored the untapped potential in terms of company reputation and employee productivity demonstrating the impact that workplace giving and community connection has across all significant indicators. At the conference, Treasury made the connection between this and its pursuit of higher New Zealand living standards – something that touches each one of us. (www.gen.org.nz)
The researchers have concluded there is a $5 return for every $1 invested in ensuring employees score well across all facets of wellbeing. Gallup uses 5 Factors of Wellbeing but there are other models and approaches that all reach the same conclusion: doing good delivers across the full range of financial measures of corporate health.
This approach to employee engagement incorporates the customer and the broader community in which the business, the employees and the customers reside. Research demonstrates:
- $64 cost to an employer per employee per year versus $392 for those who are low on wellbeing measures
- 23 days of freed up productivity per year per employee when investing in all aspects of wellbeing in contrast with 7 days in freed up productivity when managing the physical wellbeing (absenteeism) alone
- those with high Career Wellbeing get more done and work substantially longer hours without burning out. In sharp contrast, workers with low Career Wellbeing disengage after just 20 hours of work in a given week (Harter & Arora, 2009). As a result, employees with low Career Wellbeing have more incidents of workplace injury and theft. (To get a copy of the Five-factor Wellbeing report with all the financial measures, send a message on this blog.)
Demonstrating how significance and ‘connecting the dots’ impacts service, quality, motivation and engagement, there was the story of the below-par performer working at a service provider to the health sector. The supervisor had tried in vain to improve accuracy and motivation of staff, this person in particular. A visit to the ward of one of the local hospitals connected the dots. Staying behind one evening, this person referred to one of the patients by name, saying he couldn’t leave for the day without triple checking the work so no errors could get through.
We rob people when we treat them as ‘resources’ instead of human power kegs of passion and brilliance. We entrust work to them everyday but don’t trust them at all. We barricade them from connection with the real meaning of their work and blind them to their importance. We starve them of information and relevance and then complain when they can’t wait to leave for the day or make excuses not to show up at all.
Leadership is an attitude and action in the lives of every individual – it is not a title or pay scale. Inside each person on the payroll is a leader of something or someone, with the potential to significantly improve our reputation and customer experience.
When we reveal the impact people do have, we grow giants. But it is up to us to connect the dots. After all, we are the ones who disconnected people from their real purpose with structures, titles and functions that have become dysfunctions interfering with why the organisation exists.