Measuring employee satisfaction, religiously, year after year, without making any efforts to ‘create’ it through the year (or, inadvertently, yet, actively erode it), is like measuring rainfall every year, without bothering about wilful deforestation and harebrained-emission-increases through the year!

How important is employee engagement? To put it simply, it is more important than any other managerial duty or HR initiative. We need all hands on the deck to work towards it.

Let’s look at some data:

1. While most employees are less likely to leave the organization because of fewer labor market opportunities, High Potentials are actually 10% more likely to leave than the general employee population—and they currently put in 21% more effort than other employees. This leaves organizations at risk of losing some of their most productive employees.

2. Moving employees from strong disengagement to strong engagement can result in a 57% increase in discretionary effort.

3. Every 10% improvement in engagement can increase an employee’s effort level by 6%.

4. Every 10% improvement in engagement can decrease an employee’s probability of departure by 9%.

My EE formula for organizations is a two-pronged recommendation:

one, a larger, broad-based effort to help employees connect with the organization and

two, a deeper, focussed effort to engage and retain the business-critical employees.

I call it the ‘TWIN STREAMS’.

Before I explain my recommendation, here are some clips from what some other companies do:

General Motors Corporation designates individuals with business-critical functional expertise and deep knowledge of the organization as “Oak Trees.” Components of the Oak Tree program include the following:

• A rigorous application process that assesses the level of expertise and relevance of expertise to the business
• Targeted benefits and rewards for participants Voluntary attrition among Oak Trees is less than one-fifth of that of GM as a whole.

To recognize solid performers’ contributions, Kellogg adjusted its HR strategies to offer even more support to its core performers:

• Core performers receive development through opportunities to participate in special projects
• Kellogg reserved funding to increase bonuses of solid performers

Brown-Forman manages 90 critical positions that are highly important to business success:

• Many critical positions are deliberately filled with employees who have not yet been slated for a leadership development position, but have unique skills and expertise
• Individuals in critical positions receive career development and management focused on developing their expertise—not, as is the case for their HIPO peers, cross-functional exposure
• The company celebrates the contributions of core performers in a number of companywide forums


Stream 1 : Broad-based: This should address the entire population

* Build compelling messages to reach out for emotional connect.

*Build logical connects between individual jobs and strategic objectives of the organization.

*Institute a quick and efficient means of incorporating employee-suggestions.

*Experiment with different and creative means of communicating to employees. Don’t get stuck with newsletters and blogs.

*Build inspiring stories, tell them.

*Groom brand ambassadors from within the ranks. Invest in them. Seed them in pockets of discontent.

*Be quick to identify poor people leaders and coach them. Keep this process subtle but strong. Don’t tom-tom about it – do it with empathetic confidentiality. But, make sure you do it!

*Invest in helping your executives onboard to your values and live them.

*Share ‘Lessons of Life’ with people, to help them take responsibility of their careers. Help them understand that life is not about winning the short race, but preparing for the long haul. It will help give their lives meaning beyond immediate, day-to-day competitiveness and heartburn.

Stream 2 : Targeted: For Your Business-Critical Talent

*Identify your business critical people using a method that distinguishes sharply, fairly and transparently.

*Have a strong mentoring program. Indentify mentors based on mentoring track-record, not just seniority of grade. Have a rewards-program for good mentors.

*Provide challenging career paths.

*Give ‘job freedom’ – create a system where they can contribute to other jobs.

*Talk to them. Keep talking.

* Have a creative Rewards Program that not only distinguishes, but warms their hearts. Revamp your Rewards program frequently. We tend to forget that the perceived valence of rewards does not only diminish with time, a particular reward may not fire everyone equally. We, sometimes, over-obsess with standardization, forgetting that humans don’t come standardized, in shape, size, needs or wants.

*Give them access to, what I call, the ‘Burnout Beanbag’ – A time off from work in which they can still come in to office but do different things for a while. During this period, don’t hold them accountable for business results. Believe me, they need this! It can re-charge and rejuvenate like no other initiative!

So, unleash your organization’s energies and let the twin streams gush through the corridors of your office. Create a momentum that flushes out the blocks and pulls out the choking weeds of discontent – get real about employee engagement!