Most CEOs instinctively know that
engaged employees are more productive, but now there’s new data supporting their positive influence on the
Watson Wyatt’s 2007-2008 Global Work
Attitudes Report measures the impact of
employee attitudes on their company’s
financial performance over a five-year
period. Not surprisingly, the companies
that focused on driving employee engagement had the highest employee productivity and 20 percent higher financial returns
than lower-performing companies in the
survey. The surprise was that the drivers
of employee engagement differ by performance segments, not geographic location, so CEOs should customize their messages accordingly to achieve maximum
“Employees who know what to do and
who are motivated to do it are truly
engaged,” says Ilene Gochman, Ph.D.,
National Practice Director of Organization Effectiveness at Watson Wyatt
Worldwide. “To win the heads and the
hearts of their employees, CEOs must
communicate the company’s direction
and how each employee contributes to
the outcome. Tailoring those messages to
specific groups of employees based upon
their performance, not their location, is
the most effective method for driving
Smart Business spoke with Gochman
about how CEOs can effectively drive
employee engagement across a global
What are the universal drivers of employee
Our research shows that CEOs should
focus on engaging employees, not driving
productivity, because increased productivity is a byproduct of employee engagement. Based upon our survey of thousands
of employees in mid-sized organizations,
employees all around the globe are motivated by the same things and there’s room
for improvement in every area. Here are
the universal engagement drivers and
some tips for maximizing each one.
- Communication More is better. Even if CEOs aren’t sure
what to say, communicate frequently because our research shows that employees
will understand if you don’t have all the
- Strategic direction and leadership Engaged employees trust their senior
leaders, and they have confidence in their
ability to lead. When CEOs don’t explain
their reasons for decisions or how they’re
handling a problem, they give employees
the misimpression they aren’t doing anything; so give employees straight answers.
- Customer focus Organizations with strong customer
focus make customer satisfaction a top priority and their employees know how they
- Compensation and benefits Link pay to performance and ensure satisfaction with benefits to drive engagement.
Employees in all regions give their companies low marks in compensation and
benefits and communication. While they
give consistently high marks on customer
focus, reviews of strategic direction and
leadership were mixed.
Why are customized engagement messages
One size fits all is not best for crafting or
delivering engagement communication
because employees want to be recognized
as individuals. The more employees feel
like you are speaking directly to them, the
more effective your message will be.
Customized communication creates employee commitment and line of sight
between the company’s mission and each
employee’s individual contribution. Conduct attitude surveys among your employees to determine their unique drivers of
What’s the best way to segment employees?
Employees are not all the same in terms
of their value to the company. Separate
your employees into these five segments
and then tailor your communication as
- Value creators High performers contribute to the organization’s success. Target messages toward
maintaining their motivation and retaining
them, such as giving them information
about career opportunities.
- Core contributors Solid, consistent performers are typically
the largest employee segment. Communication should center on motivating them to
become value creators.
- Aligned skeptics Medium to high line of sight but low commitment. Focus on programs to build trust
and promote commitment.
- Lost believers Low line of sight but high commitment.
Give these employees direction.
- Disengaged Evaluate continued investments.
ILENE GOCHMAN, Ph.D., is the National Practice Director of Organization Effectiveness at Watson Wyatt Worldwide. Reach her at
(312) 525-2105 or [email protected].