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By Sarah C. Threnhauser

There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.

Jack Welch, former CEO of GE

That quote from Jack Welch hits on the big three performance indicators for most organizations – customer satisfaction, financial sustainability, and employee engagement. While we often discuss the essentials when it comes to meeting the needs of your customers (see Want New Health Plan Contract Opportunities? Think New Marketing Model and What ‘Performance’ Should Your Team Care About? Look At Your Health Plan’s Contract) and financial sustainability (see Sustainability Management = Portfolio Management and Can Small Organizations Survive?), employee engagement can be just as vital to the success of your organization.

Erik Marsh at The 2018 OPEN MINDS Performance Management Institute

Last month at The 2018 OPEN MINDS Performance Management Institute, we explored the issue of employee engagement and other workforce management issues with Erik Marsh, President and CEO, DATIS HR Cloud. During his session, Mr. Marsh presented the results of DATIS’ survey of 425 health and human service executives (see Nonprofit Executive Insight To 2018 HR Trends). The survey found that among executives, the top-ranked priority for 2018 was staff engagement, identified by 67.6% of the surveyed executives. Some other interesting findings from the survey:

  1. 91% of organizations are making a conscious effort to engage employees
  2. 94% of executives believe their workforce is emotionally invested
  3. 34% of organizations have an updated employee engagement plan

Any scan of the literature supports the idea that these organizations are putting their strategic focus in the right place. Employee engagement is key to productivity. Productivity increases 20-25% in organizations with engaged employees (see The Social Economy: Unlocking Value And Productivity Through Social Technologies); internal teams with engaged team members are 21% more productive (see Managing Employee Risk Requires A Culture Of Compliance); and “high engagement” is a key feature of the highest-performing employees (see Companies Are Maximizing Only 5% Of Their Workforces).

Building a high performing team starts with an employee engagement strategy with clear actionable goals and steps to ensure that employees feel valued and engaged with their jobs. Currently only about only 34% of health and human services organizations have an updated employee engagement plan.

There are a thousand suggestions online for improving employee engagement, most of which are common sense tactics based on basic management principles – foster open communication, provide positive feedback and motivation, encourage innovation and be open to new ideas, trust employees and provide opportunities for growth, etc.

But if you are looking to update that engagement plan, the key is to understand that creating “an engaged employee” starts not with individual tactics, but organizational culture. In Deloitte’s “2017 Global Human Capital Trends” report (see Rewriting The Rules For The Digital Age), the authors advise that organizations focus on providing employees meaningful work, supportive management, positive work environments, growth opportunity, and trust in leadership, noting that a new approach to employee engagement requires a holistic approach designed around employee wellness and satisfaction.

As we move into the future, staffing challenges are not going to get to easier. Increasingly organizations are going to have to navigate complex regulatory guidelines, major cultural change surrounding value-based reimbursement, and maintaining competitive benefit packages. Executive teams should develop and update their staffing strategy and plans to address these changes. And plans should specifically take into account employee engagement.

For more on building the culture it takes to keep your employees engaged, check out these resources from the OPEN MINDS Industry Library:

  1. Building Your Connection Culture
  2. Operationalize Your Connection Culture
  3. Building A Culture Of Performance
  4. The Performance Competency & Culture Gap In Non-Profit Management Teams
  5. Staff Recognition: More Important Than Ever
  6. The New Face Of Recruiting

For even more on this topic, be sure to join us at The 2018 OPEN MINDS Strategy & Innovation Institute in New Orleans on June 6 for the session, “How To Manage A Community-Based Workforce,” featuring Naomi Weinstein, Vice President, Innovation, The Institute for Community Living; Chris Copeland, Chief Operating Officer, The Institute for Community Living; and Boris Vilgorin, Healthcare Strategy Officer, NYU McSilver Institute.

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