(April 17, 2017) — I’m going to open this blog post by quoting one of the most renowned philosophers of all time:
“We are the champions, my friend. And we’ll keep on fighting ‘til the end.” – Freddie Mercury
I recently visited Tokyo with my husband and was struck by all of the renovations being done to prepare the city for the 2020 Olympics. Many times, we would be touring a normally peaceful, sacred shrine (partially obstructed by scaffolding) and have to talk over the sounds of trucks and workers. But Japan is preparing for the throngs of tourists who are coming to their country to recognize the athletic champions of the world, who train their entire lives to be recognized as the master of their craft.
As someone who cares about employee engagement, it may feel like you are fighting to prove that it’s important to others at your organization. You know that the businesses who empower their workers are the ones who are recognized as the gold medal standard for profitability and employer reputation. But does enacting your culture strategy sometimes feel more like a culture battle?
Like Olympic athletes, you may just need training to be recognized as a company culture champion at your business. While you probably didn’t start practicing employee engagement as a toddler like most of those sports stars (if you did, you don’t need to be reading this post), here are a few tips to help you advocate for better employee engagement initiatives:
1. Prove your cause with cold, hard facts.
Hosting the Olympics is one of the most expensive undertakings for any city to consider. The average winter Olympics costs $3.1 billion to host, while the summer games can run around $5.1 billion. However, being a host can generate more than $9 billion in revenue for a city too, and the needed improvements to city infrastructures, tourist attractions, and other accommodations results in years of residual tourism.
To show the value of investing in the foundation of your employee engagement strategy, you need to prove that the benefits are both immediate and long-standing. Companies with engaged employees experience 50% less turnover than those with a disengaged workforce, and companies with higher scores on the Glassdoor Culture Index are reporting higher stock price margins than those with lower scores.
Whether changes in your organization (like new leadership) is leading to decreased engagement or you want to retain your already great company culture through a period of rapid growth, do your research and prepare a few more facts about the value of engaged workers and how they positively impact your bottom line.
2. Give your company culture initiatives a scoring system.
One of the most nail-biting parts of the Olympics is when the judges announce athletes’ scores. We’ve all witnessed a team coming just a few decimal points short of clinching a medal and the ensuing cheers and tears. The Olympics wouldn’t be nearly as great if, once a gymnast is done with her flawless floor routine, she was simply met with a “great job!” from the judges.
In order to achieve Olympic standards with your employee engagement, you need a scoring system. This helps you benchmark where you are in your company culture training and celebrate when you’ve hit certain milestones. You may already be scoring your employee engagement through an annual survey, but how great would it be if you could figure out areas of improvement or cultural wins more regularly?
If you think about it, those Olympic athletes who are bawling over a 9.7 instead of a 9.8 are so emotional because they know that they have to endure four more years of relentless training for the chance to know if they’ve even improved or not. Don’t subject your employee engagement to that drama!
3. Find one or two underdogs to coach for success.
Everyone loves an underdog story. I think of the US “Miracle on Ice” team who defeated the renowned Soviet Union hockey team in 1980. The story of the team who overcame all odds has been the subject of countless books and movies, and all it took was one person to recognize these players’ potential and empower them to thrive.
In this instance, I’m not telling you to seek out one or two employees to take under your wing and mentor them into future CEOs of America. While that’s important, you don’t have time to individually coach every disengaged worker at your organization. Instead, I’m suggesting that you pinpoint a few groups of employees who may be less engaged at your business and focus your efforts on their improvement.
If you know that a certain department or group at your business may be struggling but you’re not sure exactly how, don’t hesitate to ask tailored questions to that group to better understand why they may be disengaged. Once you know the exact root of the issue through feedback from those teams, you can hyper-focus your efforts on tactics you know will actually work.
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