Employee engagement that leads to personal & business success

Posted on 8 Dec 2014 by Jonny Williamson

Marc Moschetto, vice president of global marketing at Workforce Software asks how do you create an environment where your business' hidden gems can flourish and, more importantly, stay motivated?

Marc Moschetto, VP of global marketing at Workforce Software
Marc Moschetto, VP of global marketing at Workforce Software

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase ‘employee engagement?’ Do you view it as a ‘fluffy’ concept with no direct impact on your day-to-day operations? You’re not alone. But more and more leading organisations see it as an essential ingredient in the long-term viability and success of their business.

In fact, I began writing this post armed with a litany of data points and studies highlighting the dramatic impact of employee engagement on everything from absenteeism to organisational effectiveness. (Some, particularly those from Gallup, are quite good. You can check them out here and here.) But numbers, as powerful as they may be, can also be cold and clinical. So instead, I’ll lead with a very personal example:

My Dad was the best father a guy could hope to have. He was generous and outgoing, and he had a reputation for dispensing ‘colourful’ advice with his family and friends. He spent the majority of his early years working on the shop floors of the then-booming textile and tannery shops that dotted the rivers up and down New England’s east coast.

About midway through his career, he had a manager who saw the way he interacted with other team members and vendors. Based on his perceptions, this manager had a hunch that my Dad had a knack for sales. So he gave my Dad a shot at selling the leather to shoe companies and garment manufacturers, and it set my father off on a whole new path—in more ways than one.

As I began a career of my own, first working within the manufacturing sector and eventually transitioning over to HR technology, we often talked about my Dad’s experiences and how—no matter where he sat on the org chart or what role he played—he viewed personnel as the lifeblood of any successful venture.

When I would bring up the importance of employee satisfaction and how workers needed to be ‘dialled-in’ to their jobs, Dad would chuckle and say, “Your boss sends ‘thank you’ notes every week, signed in the lower-right corner…” In his world and in his generation, the payslip was often thanks enough. An hour’s work for an hour’s wages, take your lunch break, and head home when the whistle blows. Work was a simple and straightforward transaction.

When I pushed back on that philosophy a bit, suggesting that he might not have gotten the chance to enter into that different career path if someone hadn’t noticed that he had skills beyond the role he was filling, he would simply (and humbly) break it down to an question of ethics. “Wanting to do your job will get you out of bed and get you to the plant. Wanting to do a good job is what gets you to go the extra mile.”

I learned a lot from my Dad and think of those conversations often. His personal story reveals some keen insights about employee engagement and satisfaction, along with the value of being able to spot talent within your workforce.

So let’s switch gears from the personal to the abstract: how can you find those hidden gems within your business and how do you create an environment where such individuals can flourish and, more importantly, stay motivated? Here are some tips:

Metrics matter
In my previous post, I spelled-out the importance of collecting labour data at a granular level and leveraging that data to drive continuous improvement. Those same metrics can serve as a leading indicator of waning engagement or declining employee satisfaction—which are often tied to a lack of productivity. So if you notice throughput or quality beginning to suffer, consider whether faltering engagement may be the driving force. Layer in absence data and the picture may further crystallize. If absence patterns emerge, the data can also serve as further evidence to support next steps.

Marc Moschetto: vice president of global marketing

Bringing over two decades of technology marketing experience to his role at WorkForce Software, Marc Moschetto serves as the company’s vice president of global marketing. He is responsible for defining WorkForce Software’s marketing strategy, as well as leading the team executing against that strategy. He has delivered his insights on technology and business needs, outsourced employee benefits administration, and workforce management in articles in various publications, Webcast presentations, blogs and social networking sites as well as traditional seminars and presentations. Previously, he was the director of industry marketing and corporate communications at Workscape and has held senior marketing roles at human capital management providers Infor/Workbrain and SmartTime.

Data-driven resolutions

Comprehensive labour metrics can also help identify the best path forward for your business. For example, if there has been a long stretch of excessive overtime, there’s a good chance your workforce may be suffering from fatigue. Similarly, if you have newer employees working on particular tasks, and they have not been properly or thoroughly trained, they may feel like they’re ‘floating’ in their role—forcing other members of your team to pick up the slack. In either example, creative scheduling can resolve the issue. (For more details on this subject, see the ‘Strategic scheduling’ section of my previous post.)

Consistency counts

How employees are treated—particularly in the areas of absence and leave—can also have a significant impact on engagement. For example, if Employee A is granted a leave request, while Employee B has a similar request denied, it breeds a sense of unfairness and bias within the business. I’m sure we’ve all witnessed similar perceptions of favouritism around how shifts are filled. Having a workforce management strategy, and automating it through a workforce management platform that drives fairness and consistency across the board can go a very long way in creating an environment where all employees feel they are being treated equally.

Paycheque accuracy & timeliness

As reflected in my Dad’s philosophy about ‘thank you notes’ from the boss, paycheques are perhaps the most personal aspect of any job—from the corner office all the way down the line. When there’s a payroll error, such as miscalculated wages or missing holiday pay, it has a significant and immediate impact to the employee. Of course, employers want to set it right straight away, and there’s a cost to the business in creating off-cycle cheque runs and ‘make up’ payments. But correcting the pounds and pence of cheques is the easiest to fix. It’s the loss of trust and the damage to morale that are harder to recover, particularly if an employee needs to go through a lengthy justification process to highlight the error. Having an automated way to capture time, calculate pay, and feed that calculation to payroll is the best, most accurate, and most automated way to reduce—if not eliminate—pay calculation errors.

Get back to basics

Numbers and metrics are important, but so is walking the floor. I used to work for a company that manufactured PLCs, switches, and other devices, and we had a pretty sizable campus that included a full production facility. Our CEO would routinely spend time on the production floor, talking to employees and getting their take on the business and their role. He believed it was critically important to ensure that employees understood why the work they did was vital to the success of the company and, similarly, he wanted them to understand that he valued their contribution. Sometimes something as simple as a kind word can go a very long way in driving engagement.

Keep an eye out for the change agents

Just as one of the managers at my Dad’s company spotted an aptitude that could be put to use in other parts of the business, you, too, must keep an eye out for those individuals within your organisation that may be better suited for other roles. Maybe it’s the worker who is particularly adept at a certain aspect of his or her job. Perhaps this individual has become the ‘go-to’ person in your business … the one that other employees turn to for guidance and assistance. Every organisation has one or two individuals who help to define the character and composition of the business, and identifying them is key. In my next post, I’ll discuss how workforce management strategy intersects with talent management strategy and how the two combine to create a truly holistic view of the business.

In the meantime, how do you drive employee engagement and acknowledge your top performers? Leave a comment below to share your story.

About WorkForce Software

Founded in 1999, WorkForce Software has emerged as a key player in the competitive workforce management landscape for large employers. Since the company’s inception, the company has continually grown by every measure—from the number of clients we serve, to the number of professionals we employ, to the revenues we generate and reinvest in our solutions. Today our solutions are in use by hundreds of companies around the world.

WorkForce Software’s EmpCenter® suite addresses a broad range of workforce management functionality, including time & attendance, staff scheduling, absence and leave management, employee fatigue management, and labour analytics. Through providing a complete solution designed to automate 100% of each client’s business requirements, we help large and complex organisations address some of their most pressing and strategic needs faced by HR, payroll, finance, operations and executive personnel.