A productive workforce can drive profits by 30%
According to business analytics firm Gallup, and based on a worldwide survey of 1.2 million employees, just 13 per cent of the workforce is engaged in the workplace.
Gallup’s research shows that management accounts for 70 per cent of the variance between engaged and non-engaged staff.
How can one combine management techniques, learning and development opportunities for staff to bridge this gap and ensure a happy, motivated and, above all, productive workforce?
A new approach to employee development
Many businesses work on the principle that, in order to be more successful, they should help their employees improve on their weakest areas. But this approach is ineffective by comparison with doing the opposite – building on their innate talent and playing to their strengths.
“It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first rate to excellence,” according to management consultant Peter Drucker in Managing Oneself.
Helping employees become even better at things they’re already good at is the best way to increase workforce productivity, drive engagement and reduce staff turnover, and ultimately make a positive impact on companies’ bottom line.
Know your staff’s strengths
Research finds that only 43 per cent of companies feel they have a good understanding of their employees’ unique talents, skills and experience.
Yet the same study also notes that 70 per cent of companies review performance regularly. This suggests that there’s a disconnect between the process of gathering feedback and translating this into actionable data.
It’s shown that the most effective way to gather information is to ensure that well thought out, measurable targets are set, with high-quality indicators to give a true sense of the progress being made.
To achieve high quality indicators, the involvement of the stakeholders being assessed is essential. This means opening lines of communication with employees to understand their strengths.
When managers understand their employees’ strengths, it allows them to boost employee retention, increase internal promotions and deliver a more engaged workforce.
Develop those strengths
Studies show that managers can empower and engage employees through well-implemented training, giving them more autonomy and further solidifying their connection with your business, paving the way for better performance.
But is it best to focus on areas in which your employees are already competent? Gallup’s research very much suggests that it is. When looking at the impact of strength-focused employee development, they took several factors into account to measure success: profit, customer engagement, sales, safety and employee engagement. Here are the astonishing numbers:
- 14-29 per cent profit increases
- 3-7 per cent higher customer engagement
- 10-19 per cent increase in sales
- 22-59 per cent decrease in health and safety-related incidents
- 9-15 per cent employee engagement increases
Many businesses are still stuck trying to train their staff to improve in areas where they are underperforming. Another Gallup study showed 77 per cent of employees saying that their training was focused on trying to fix areas of weakness.
With low engagement, a recurring problem is an increase in sick days (absenteeism). It’s often thought that many sick days are taken as a result of poor engagement and job apathy, but what’s proven is that businesses see a 41 per cent drop in absenteeism and a 70 per cent fall in safety incidents when implementing strength-focused development. This is in addition to a 17 per cent jump in productivity.
Tanvir Haque is Founder of Freshstone Consulting and Chief Commercial Officer at Lifecare International. With a career spanning back more than 20 years, Haque thrives on developing customer-centric business relationships.