In business, we tend to study a concept to death and then discard it when a new buzzword comes along. The truth is that we have been studying employee engagement for a long time because it is difficult and complex. A tight labor market and enlightened leaders have taught us that workers who care about their company can be a competitive differentiator. Given the same available resources, markets, suppliers, etc., a company with engaged employees will win.
The Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry knows this firsthand, as they are constantly facing increasing operational costs, slow-growth, global competition, and tech-savvy shoppers. The CPG industry has recorded great success in employee engagement, despite the challenges they face, and can confirm that this gives them a step ahead in all areas of the competitive market.
The problem is that employee engagement is not simple; because human behavior is complex. CPG industries should know this better than anyone, as CPG companies often struggle to understand market disruption and dislocation because their strategy is wrong. Directing resources to employee engagement without proper respect for its complexity is like hopping on a horse before you know if it has been broken to ride.
What do you need to know about employee engagement before “hopping on the horse?”
- Almost everyone in the business would agree to the general definition of employee engagement, but very few understand its complexity. For example, if the pay is the issue, it is the only issue. Employees who are underpaid are hard to engage just as a hungry child is difficult to educate. But does anyone feel like they are paid enough?
- Employee engagement isn’t something a company does. It is something that happens. In the 1920s, employers were trying to find the right lighting, paint color, etc. to make employees work harder. The leaders found that by paying attention to employees the workers were motivated to work harder.
- Employee engagement can’t be understood in a single measurement period, but it can be revealed over time. The annual or bi-annual employee engagement survey is not dead. It is the annual physical every employer requires, but it is not effective without a comparison group. Engagement is best measured by patterns as opposed to benchmarks.
- Human Resources departments are a perfect place to trigger efforts to increase employee engagement. Executive buy-in is always an issue and always important, but employee engagement is triggered by actions more than words. New processes and policies—like new paint and lighting—can be ways to show the employer is paying attention. The CPG sector suffers from unusually high-turnover rates in two of its most important industries: manufacturing and transportation. Making positive changes through actions rather than words can help reduce turnover and increase engagement.
- Like all other aspects of a business, on-going collection and monitoring of employee engagement is crucial to success. Employee engagement is a journey, not a destination. Measuring employee engagement is a conversation, not a measurement period.
Employee engagement has become a popular but little-understood concept. Human Resource teams are already strategic partners in the effort to engage employees. Now, we need to arm these HR teams with the same data and analytics that the business leaders use to make decisions because employee engagement is as complex as all other parts of the business.
Are you an organization struggling to improve employee engagement? To learn more about resources that can help you better motivate your employees, call us today at 877-439-9315 or contact us online to talk with one of our expert team members. We provide tools that will not only help you motivate and engage employees but understand why they become unmotivated in the first place.