Executive Development Blog

Who's Afraid of Workforce Strategy?

Posted by UNC Executive Development on Mar 1, 2016 12:07:02 PM

Who's Afraid of Workforce Strategy? UNC white paperMany large organizations built workforces of thousands of employees only to discover, after some form of disruptive change, that many of the skills and mindsets of their workforces were incompatible with the demands of evolving markets. These organizations may have masterful business strategies, but they are stuck with workforces that cannot execute. The gap between the quality of business strategy and the capability of the workforce is an important predictor for successful execution of strategy and achievement of financial targets. Today, more than ever, disruptive forces affect labor, quickly render workforce skills obsolete, and diminish the value of your most important asset. CEOs ask, “Why are we struggling to execute on the business plan year after year, and why didn’t we see this coming?” If your company’s approach to managing the workforce in the world of fast-changing labor and market realities increasingly feels like walking a high-wire without a net, it’s time to take a serious look at a more impactful and decisive workforce management method.

The beauty of workforce strategy is its focus on developing the capability and culture required to quickly adapt the workforce. This agility is based on the needs of a business strategy that anticipates shifts in the market. This adaptability includes the workforce size, cost, skills, and qualities needed to execute the strategy, often under multiple future scenarios. In contrast, workforce planning focuses more on shorter-term labor forecasting and availability projections and, generally, does not take into account the various scenarios that could disrupt the workforce’s ability to execute the long-term business strategy.

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Topics: HR, talent management, talent development, strategy

What Does Employee Engagement Sound Like?

Posted by Kip Kelly on Oct 11, 2013 3:06:00 PM

Earlier this year, Gallup released their 2103 report, State of the Global Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for Business Leaders Worldwide.  The report includes some troubling insights, prompting legitimate concerns about workplace productivity and employee retention - and encouraging many companies to look for solutions to improve employee engagement.

So what is employee engagement? Employee engagement measures whether you feel invested and committed to your job, and whether you're motivated to contribute to the success of your organization. Gallup identified three categories of employee engagement: Engaged, Not Engaged, and Actively Disengaged. "Engaged" employees feel inspired by their work, with a sense of passion and commitment to their company. Then you have those who are "Not Engaged" - they have checked out, putting in the time but not the energy or enthusiasm.  Finally, you have the "Actively Disengaged" - employees so unhappy that they are actively undermining the success of the organization. According to a recent Gallup study, only 30% of employees are Engaged, and the other 70% are Not Engaged (50%) or Actively Disengaged (20%).

Note that employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction. Employee satisfaction focuses on whether you are content with your job and work environment. In contrast, employee engagement focuses on whether you feel committed to your work and your employer. Employee engagement is a measure of whether you feel inspired and passionate about your work; it is about feeling energized and enthusiastic about your contribution to the organization.

They say music is what feelings sound like - so what does feeling engaged sound like?  It's hard to say, but guaranteed it is a positive, feel good anthem.  Engaged employees may be singing James Brown's "I Feel Good" or maybe The Pointer Sisters' "I'm So Excited".  Younger workers may relate more to U2's "Beautiful Day" or maybe the Owl City/Carly Rae Jepsen collaboration, "It's Always a Good Time".  You get the idea. Those who are Not Engaged may be feeling more like Dolly Parton's "(Working) 9 to 5" or maybe Loverboy's "Working for the Weekend."  Meanwhile, you're Actively Disengaged may be plotting to the tune of "Take This Job and Shove It."

It is important to recognize that every company is different and every employee is unique. What inspires and motivates one person may have no impact on the next. Extrinsic factors, like salary and bonus, can reward performance - but engagement is often driven by more intrinsic motivation. Employees will go above and beyond when they find the job to be personally rewarding.  This suggests that companies hoping to improve employee engagement should avoid a one-size-fits-all solution, and adopt a more dynamic approach that will be relevant to different employees in different ways.  For example, the Gallup report identifies a number of generational differences with regard to employee engagement.

According to Gallup’s research, the generations at the beginning and the end of their careers tend to be more engaged than those in the middle of their careers. That means Baby Boomers on the verge of retirement are more inclined to be sing along to the Turtles' "Happy Together" or the Beatles' "Getting Better" instead of The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". Generation X on the other hand, in the middle of their careers, may be making a mixed tape featuring the Talking Heads' classic "Life During Wartime" or perhaps REM's "Its the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Actively Disengaged)."

Millenials, at the beginning of their careers, may have Taylor Swift's "Stay Stay Stay" blasting on their iPods, but the Gallup research says they are also the most likely of all generations to say they will leave their jobs in the next 12 months if the job market improves.  So, they may be changing their tune to "We are Never Ever Getting Back Together".

So, what does employee engagement sound like in your organization? Let us know.  #workanthem

You can also download one of our recent white papers on employee engagement if you want to read more:

Powering Your Bottom Line Through Employee Engagement

Focusing on Employee Engagement: How to Measure and Improve It

Embracing Open–Book Management to Fuel Employee Engagement and Corporate Sustainability

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Topics: employee engagement, actively disengaged, executive development, leadership, Gen Y, executive education, HR