If It’s Profit You’re After, Refocus Your Attention On This

by | Aug 20, 2020

Employee engagement. It gets talked about a lot, but too often gets cast aside as one of those “when we have time for it,” things.

Meanwhile, the average company is managing to engage only about ⅓ of their workforce, and they are leaving a lot on the table as a result.

A key mistake that leaders who are tempted to kick the engagement can down the road, or invest in it half-heartedly, tend to make is: they fail to recognize that the “invisible tax” that we incur when our team isn’t lit up can cost us considerably more than a proactive investment of effort and dough into lighting their team up.

This is a costly error. Their people feel it, and their businesses pay dearly.

It is kind of like this especially stubborn buddy of mine used to claim he couldn’t afford a $150 gym membership. Meanwhile, he was maxing out his medical insurance deductible each year getting monitored for a whole host of preventable issues like high cholesterol, high blood pressure. Near-sighted leaders make a similar cognitive error—trading a lesser cost today for a huge cost over the long-term.

The fix? Let’s pay the $150 now, make the commitment, and save a boatload of money over time. Time to make lighting your team up a key strategic priority.

See, in the era of the knowledge economy—where people are the most critical raw material that power businesses—igniting our people is the key to igniting our businesses. And as we hit pretty hard (and convincingly, I might add 🙂 in my book, The Blue Flame, companies that make investing in employee engagement a priority benefit…. big time.

When companies get this right, it pays. Big time. Companies in the 99th percentile on employee engagement—those who really get this right—have on average, 4 times the success rate of those in the 1st percentile.

When companies ignore this, they fall behind. Companies with low employee engagement scores (lowest quartile) experience 16% lower profitability, and significantly lower enterprise value over time.

It is time to balance our investment in the seemingly more tangible levers that drive our businesses—new products, expanded distribution, bigger marketing budgets, etc.—with investment in the people who drive those levers. And this isn’t an investment that we can simply throw dollars at. Investments of executive time, attention, and mindshare are crucial. Lasting change requires leaders leaning into new mindsets and behaviors. It requires them to spend time with their people.

Not convinced? Let’s break this down:

Employees who focus on what they do best are (on average) 6X more engaged than their peers.

Employees who do what lights them up, work that they find meaningful, have an average 46% higher job satisfaction compared to their peers.

Employees who are doing what they do best and find meaning in it are anywhere from 20-40% more productive compared to their peers.

And studies have shown that higher productivity means higher profitability.

If it is profit you’re after, refocus on your people… and helping them to come alive in their work. 

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