Employee Engagement & Culture – The Path to Greater Results & Profitability

In a previous life (career), I was the President of a large marketing & communications firm, including a national consulting practice, which specialized in helping CEO’s and leadership teams produce enhanced business results through strategic alignment, workflow productivity, employee culture, customer loyalty and increased profitability.

We served hundreds of clients across every conceivable private, public and not for profit sector, including healthcare. When asked, what was the common denominator of each client, I’d suggest it had nothing to do with size, scope, industry sector or economic cycle. What each organization did have was the following:

  • Leadership (CEO or Team) who felt the business was underperforming
  • Courage & conviction to look for the reasons why and fix them
  • Lack of strategic alignment at leadership/management level
  • Uneven delegation of roles, responsibility & accountability
  • Fixation on monetary outcomes not operational excellence
  • Lack of performance measurement and metrics
  • Inability to escape the inevitable inertia of the ‘Day-to Day’
  • Culture of de-motivated and disengaged human capital

It’s the last point that drives all else. Not structure, pricing, marketing, sales, technology, compensation –  ‘Good strategy flows through the organization to the marketplace through our employees’.  If our employee engagement culture is strong we succeed, we create better working environments and we make more money, lots more money!

The universal truth is that no sector, country, or entity is exempt from the single most impactful influence on productivity and profitability – Employee Engagement

What is Employee Engagement?

Firstly, it’s neither a concept or a theory, but a globally recognized, quantified  and proven economic model (AON Hewitt, Gallup, Deloitte).

‘Employee Engagement is the cultural barometer of an organization, measuring and managing the degree to which employees are passionately committed to a shared vision, supportive environment and understanding of their individual/teams importance, accountability and recognition for executing a measurable set of performance goals’.

3 Key Employment Engagement Pillars

  1. FOCUS – strategic alignment, shared vision, goals and measurable targets
  2. CAPABILITY – key employee resources, tools, training and expectations
  3. WILL – motivated employees, recognition, opportunities and ‘discretionary efforts’

How does it Impact the Organization?

Through many years of measuring employee engagement and its impact on organizational/team performance, research, consulting firms and major blue chip corporations have proven the performance and financial results of a highly-engaged employee base. Conversely, the presence of a higher than normal level of ‘highly disengaged’ employees results in quantified negative results, including the toxicity of their behaviors on the morale of rest of the team.

Performance Examples

Gallup Worldwide has led the way with empirical studies (Gallup Meta Analysis), which indicate that the differences between engaged and actively disengaged work units had significant differences:

Customer Ratings + 10%

Profitability +22%

Productivity +21%

Turnover – 25%

Absenteeism – -27%

Quality (defects) – 41%

Safety Incidents – 41%

What Drives Positive Employee Engagement?

Not Money! While financial compensation and recognition incentives are important, they seldom, if ever, top the charts of key motivators (Read Daniel Pinks’ ‘The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us’ – 2009)

Key Drivers of Employee Engagement (FOCUS, CAPABILITY & WILL)

  • Alignment & Clarity of Corporate Vision
  • Clear understanding of individual’s role and value to the organization
  • Supportive environment with development paths (training, tools)
  • Feedback & Recognition
  • Strong Values (Trust, Respect, Collaboration & Autonomy)
  • Integrating into the overall strategic and day-to-day operations

What does an actively disengaged employee cost my organization?

Forget all the evidence concerning productivity, safety, turnover, etc, and relate the following to your own dental practice, or lab.

An actively disengaged employee costs their organization $3,400 for every $10,000 of salary (Gallup – Meta Analysis Research). Now if you have an employee base of 40 people and 20% are actively disengaged, that’s 8 employees. If your median salary is $75,000 a year that’s $25,500 X 8 employees = $204,000 per year that goes down the elevator shaft each night!

Is Employee Engagement directly relevant to the Dental Profession?

The concept of employee engagement has grown well beyond the theoretical and has relevance and application to any organization, which relies on human capital to execute strategy, tasks, and interact with a customer base.

By its very nature dentistry and the support partners who serve clients (labs, etc.), perform in an environment of heightened expectations, stress, timelines and reliance on a culture of high performance. This makes dentistry an even more likely candidate to explore the opportunities and benefits employee engagement affords.

But, a cautionary note before you do. Be prepared for the results, since employee engagement and a healthy, engaged employee base starts at the top. Building engagement is a full on strategic and operational commitment, which requires long-term management buy-in, belief in and the patience to implement across the entire enterprise.