North Americans are still suffering. This week Fast Company posted Gallup’s latest statistics on employee engagement, noting “only 30% of the nation’s working population today admits to being fully engaged at work”, and that although “there’s been a slight improvement to engagement since the Great Recession, it’s hard to cheer when you realize 52% of Americans admit to being disengaged in their jobs, and another 18% to being actively disengaged.”
Having spent 8 years working with companies to address their employee engagement concerns, I have experienced first hand the energy and productivity that surfaces from applying traditional approaches to employee engagement. Although Gallup reports that a company will generally see an increase to 70% engagement from implementing these methods, I have more often seen increases to as high as 85% in under 3 years.
“Organizations in the top decile of engagement outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share, and have 90% better growth trend than their competition.” (Gallup)
Can you imagine what could be accomplished if you could increase employee engagement to north of 90%?
At the Heart at Work Institute, we can and we have.
There are two types of engagement that your organization needs to be concerned with to maximize the energy potential of your workforce, and capture 85%-95% engagement results.
Tactile Engagement refers to the well-known, traditional, hands on approaches to increasing employee engagement. To reach performance levels consistent with how successful companies are doing it today, there are three processes you need to implement:
- Measurement of Employee Engagement
- Employee-Driven Problem Solving
- Management Action Planning and Execution
These three systems are what gets the ball rolling.
First, what gets measured gets managed. We suggest implementing a simple employee engagement survey that is run twice a year, every year. The information from these surveys is shared with both management, and the full employee base.
Next, realize the answers to the problems are best found by the people who know the problems best – the employees themselves. We implement processes that engage the brain power of employees to find solutions to that which ails them. And we believe that, given the opportunity, even disengaged employees will step up to be heard.
Finally, action must be taken on the viable solutions suggested by employees. Communication about what will be done, what won’t be done, and what actually got done must be delivered transparently and regularly.
The trouble with tactile engagement is: it’s superficial. It can only go so far because it taps the least energetic aspect of human potential: the cephalic (head) brain.
Recent discoveries in neuroscience and health reveal that humans essentially have three brains, and most of us are only consciously using one of them – the cephalic (head) brain.
To be successful at securing the last 15% of employee engagement, organizations will need to actively pursue the other two brains: the heart and the gut ‘brains’. When you access heart and gut energy in your organization, engagement escalates rapidly, with a much sharper rise in productivity and profitability.
The human energy that arises from aligning one’s heart to the mission and activities of the organization is scientifically and measurably higher. Research conducted at the Institute of Heartmath in California shows that creating congruence between heart and mind physically alters the electric energy of the heart, which is 60 times stronger than the electric energy of the brain.
The heart’s magnetic energy is 100 times stronger than the brain. That means the energy of one’s heart can be measured several feet away from the person by any medium that can measure energy, including other human bodies. By tapping one’s heart passions, you create “bioelectromagnetic communication” between people that supercharges the energetic potential of your organization.
To create engagement at the heart level, organizations must become aware of the passions and aspirations of each employee, and intrinsically tie them to the mission and activities of the organization.
Research shows nerve cells in the gut that act as a brain. When the gut is not congruent with the heart and the head, “there is chaos in the gut and misery in the head — everything from “butterflies” to cramps, from diarrhea to constipation”. (The Second Brain: A Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine, by Dr. Michael Gershon, 1999)
Gut energy manages action. What happens in your gut controls what comes through your hands, feet and mouth. That is because the gut is the control centre for fear and guilt. Distant memories of prior personal stresses are stored in the organs of the gut as subconscious fears and apprehensions. They rise to the surface as conditioned responses when a person is faced with challenging or uncertain decisions or conditions.
Gut energy can have a dampening effect on your organization’s success. When human fear and apprehension are allowed to persist, they will slow things down and sometimes even put you in reverse.
To create engagement at the gut level, your organization has to remove fear and guilt through effective leadership and management. It needs:
- Skilful and confident leaders who have transcended fear and mastered inner freedom
- Coaching skills among people managers – in other words, train your managers in professional coaching techniques
- Communication processes – ways for open and candid communication to flow freely in all directions of the organization – live and in real time
It Has Health Benefits Too
The integrated approach to employee engagement not only helps you to transform your employee engagement, but it has a tremendous healing effect on your employee population. By tapping passions and removing fear, the body’s energy begins to eliminate toxins that lead to or support diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and other life altering conditions. At the head level, we can consider the millions of dollars in savings on health spending and insurance claims that can be realized by an investment in integrated employee engagement methods.
By Mary Legakis Engel, The Management Coach, and Co-Founder of the Heart at Work Institute