Understanding Why Your Employee Engagement Strategy Needs An Overhaul
No matter what our reporters or politicians say, this economy is not down or up, what it is, is changed, radically different. So different that things are never, I mean never, going back to the way that they were. In fact, economists agree, and they say that we have literally gone through an economic shift, moving out of what is known as a “push” economy and into what is called a “pull” economy.
While there is a lot to know and understand about this shift, all you really need to know as leaders, team members, and business owners, is that when we made this shift, the consumer, your customers, moved into the position of control. They are holding all the cards, and they have all the power to make the decisions about when, from where and whom they buy. Think about it; think about how much change has happened in our economy in the last five to ten years: globalization, constant advancements in technology, and increasing competition.
The truth is, we could all get up right now, go home, and sit around in our PJS, our sweatpants or heck we could even sit around in our underwear for the next weeks if we wanted to, and we could Google until our hearts are content researching, learning and buying whatever it is we want.
Just take a moment and think about that. We can buy groceries, office supplies, and even a new car, all online. We can join groups, attend networking events, support our favorite charities, heck, we can even make a friend, get a date, get married, and get divorced! We can do all of that without ever having to take a bath, get dressed, utter a phrase, or leave the comfort of our own home ever again.
That right there, that changes EVERYTHING! That makes this is an economy like no other, an economy like none we have ever lived in, worked in, developed a team in, let alone had to grow a business in before. It is no wonder the rules of how we grow a company and how we engage employees need to change, this economy has changed, and to succeed we need to change with it.
In this economy, with the increases in competition and the availability of technology and the Internet, the products and services we sell have become a commodity. Consumers believe, and they are right, they can buy our product anywhere, with a click of a mouse, so it is therefore the service they are looking for. This is a global economy, where consumers can choose to buy products or services in their hometown, three states away, or anywhere in the world. So, I know you think your business, your store is unique or special, but no matter how unique you believe your product or service is, to the consumer, your customer, it has become a commodity. So, in this economy, the products or services we offer are not the true reason our customers are buying from us, the true reason is how we offer it, how we position it, is. That is now our competitive advantage.
In this economy, trust is what attracts the customer to you, and value is what keeps them long term! This is a relationship economy, a relationship economy that is as much about the relationships that you build with your employees as it is about the ones you build with our customers. In fact, I believe that in this economy, the relationships that you build with your employees are more important to the success of your company than the relationships you build with your customers.
Why? Because in this economy, it is not the product or service you are selling—it is the experience your customers are having. In today’s new economy, that is what is growing your business, and that is what is transferring to your bottom line. Now think about it: The experience your customers are having is dependent upon the level of engagement of your employees.
Creating an amazing customer experience would all be so easy if you—the owner, leader, CEO—were the only one interacting with your customers, but you are not. Not only are you not the only one interacting with your customers, but your employees are most likely having more interaction with your customers than you. Kind of scary when you think about it, isn’t it? You need your employees to be fully engaged, to care as much about your customers’ experience as you do.
In this economy you are dependent upon how engaged your employees are; in fact, employee engagement is your key to success in this economy. Ironically, at a time when we need our employees to be fully engaged, we are suffering from the most disengaged workforce in recent history. At a time when customers are demanding more from us, our employees are giving less.
$450 billion – That is the number recently released by Gallup, estimating that this disengaged workforce is costing U.S. companies more than $450 billion per year.
$700 million – That is the amount U.S. companies are spending annually to try and solve the problem. And according to Bersin & Associates, that number is expected to rise to $1.53 billion in the next few years.
70% – That is the number, despite all this money being spent and all these resources committed, of employees admitting to being checked out, unmotivated, and disengaged. And according to the Harvard Business Review, that number is expected to rise to 84% within the next few years.
So I would say, Houston, we have a problem.
We need our employees to be more engaged than ever, and we are spending more money than ever trying to engage our employees, yet the problem continues to get worse—costing more money and more resources, and getting fewer results. It makes you ask, “Why?”
The good news is, as leaders, we know we have a problem, and we are trying hard to solve it. But when you look at the research, when you see the statistics, don’t you wonder why? Why if the approach we are using to solve the problem is not working, why do we we keep using the same, traditional approach?
It is clear from the statistics and the pending upward trend that it is time to turn our approach to both this economy and employee engagement on its head, and create a new style of leadership, one that inspires innovation and growth. A new style of leadership that encourages your team to OWN IT and gets your employees, your leaders, and this economy to start working for you!
While I cover and go into great detail about exactly the strategies you need, and how to overhaul your approach to employee engagement in this new economy in my newest book, Own It: Redefining Responsibility, here are three strategies to get you started:
3 Strategies To Overhaul Your Approach To Employee Engagement
- Understand & Embrace – Start here by really spending some time thinking and talking about the fact that this economy is not down, but different. Work with your peers, create a task force to discuss how this economy has changed, and how that change has impacted your experience, your customers’ experiences, and most importantly your employees. Think about changes in society, your industry, political changes, technology etc.
- Redesign the Path – We are conditioned, as leaders and business owners, to focus on the customer experience and the building of customer relationships. I want to challenge you to redesign the path, to think about creating a better customer experience by first creating a better employee experience. Again, working with your team or peers, and take some time to trace the current path of the employee experience, recognizing whom they interact with, and who has the greatest impact on their overall experience.
- Trade Control for Uncertainty – Understand that in this economy you are not in control; you need great customers and great employees much more than they need you. Letting go of that control is the first step in understanding the importance of focusing on relationships and experiences with both your customers and your employees.