What Executives Need to Know About Engaging Employees

© imageteam - Fotolia.com
© imageteam - Fotolia.com

I greatly enjoyed the summary of Deloitte’s Core Beliefs and Culture survey in ChiefExecutive.net.

The importance of company culture and it’s foundation – the core values and beliefs – are indisputably important to employees and their ability to engage in the organization and their work. Yet executives are still missing the mark on several points.

Thankfully, executives (94 percent) and employees (88 percent) alike agree company culture is important to business success. But there are big misses on several fronts, too.

1. Employees: Strategy is nothing without culture

I’ve written several posts on this point. Without culture, strategy cannot be fully effective. Employees agree, yet executives are still missing the point a bit.

However, there’s more work to be done to close the gaps on other business priorities. The study indicates executives tend to prioritize a clearly defined business strategy (76 percent) above clearly defined and communicated core values and beliefs (62 percent), whereas employees value them equally (57 percent and 55 percent, respectively). Also, 70 percent of employees who agreed that their companies had performed well financially said their boss speaks to them often about culture. But only 19 percent of executives and 15 percent of employees believe strongly that their organization’s culture is widely upheld.”

Unless all employees – at every level – are committed to living the culture by demonstrating the core values in their daily work (and are reinforced, praised and recognized for doing so), then that last point above will remain lackluster.

2. Employee engagement? It’s different than executive think

In nearly every survey that even comes close to this topic, executives, leaders and managers always rank money in some form as most important to employee engagement, yet employees always rank better management (communication, recognition, opportunities to grow and learn, etc.) as what they really need if you want them to engage.

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The Core Beliefs and Culture survey found a consensus (83 percent of executives and 84 percent of employees) that having engaged and motivated employees is a top factor substantially contributing to company success. However, executives ranked tangible elements such as financial performance (65 percent) and competitive compensation (62 percent) most highly as drivers of employee engagement, while employees rated more highly the intangible elements of regular and candid communications (50 percent) and access to management/leadership (49 percent).”

Someday, the cumulative weight of all these surveys will have to sink in for executives. It’s part of my mission to speed that process along.

3. Executives don’t do as well living the core values

Your employees are watching, closely. Are you really living the core values? They are following your lead, so be sure you as a manager as setting the right example.

Deloitte’s survey indicated a significant gap between executive belief and employee perception, often punctuated by executive overstatement. For instance, 84 percent of executives believe senior leadership regularly communicates their company’s core values and beliefs. Only 67 percent of employees feel that is true. In terms of “practicing what one preaches,” 81 percent of executives compared to 69 percent of employees believe senior leadership acts in accordance with the company’s core values and beliefs.”

Please chime in in comments, but tell me if you’re in management or are an individual contributor – what do you value most? What do you most need to be engaged in your organization?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at irvine@globoforce.com.


1 Comment on “What Executives Need to Know About Engaging Employees

  1. Derek, the beautiful thing about social media is that you no longer need a survey to learn these things—you can actually see cultural disconnects and engagement drops in how employees and leaders carry themselves online.

    (Who knew, right?)

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