Hay Group - Winning Hearts and Minds for high-performance organizations

From Employee Engagement to Effectiveness

We’ve all heard the one about the CEO who was asked how many people worked in his organization. “Oh, about half of them,” he replied. Joking aside, how true is this within your organization?

Chances are it’s not being measured, or at least not by of top-line data profits or days outstanding or units produced. Today employee engagement has become a major focus for leaders. Hay Group defines engagement as “ability to stimulate employees’ enthusiasm and pride in their work and directing it toward organizational success.” It has two components: Commitment – connection with the organization’s purpose, and Discretionary Effort – the willingness to go beyond formal job requirements.

However, engaging employees alone is not sufficient to achieve the maximum level of individual and team effectiveness. What’s the missing piece?

The answer lies in Employee Effectiveness: the measurement of engagement combined with enablement. To get the most from employees, leaders must not only motivate them but also enable them to channel their extra efforts productively. Organizations must ensure that employees are given the tools, skills and clear roles and resources to facilitate employees’ productivity.

Why is this important?

Our research among millions of employees worldwide shows that highly engaged and enabled employees are 50% more likely to outperform their individual performance targets. The companies that both engage and enable their people to achieve 4.5 times the revenue growth of the rest, while high levels of engagement and enablement can improve staff retention by up to 54%. Most importantly, organizations with highly engaged and enabled workers also exceed industry averages for five-year ROA, ROI, and ROE – by up to 60%.

What are some key takeaways for your HR agenda?  

First, you need to make a conscious effort to win hearts and minds. This means leading with purpose and a clear, promising direction. In addition, senior leaders must be trusted and appear genuinely interested in the organization’s and people development.

Second, you should ensure that motivated employees have the support they need to be optimally effective in their jobs. This idea is underscored in some of the following recommendations:

  • Re-align the Performance Management process. Focus not just on annual targets, but also on on-going feedback, fair recognition and skills development.
  • Don’t be afraid to give people autonomy – but always be clear on goals. Follow the “freedom in frame” approach. You will be amazed by how people can leverage their skills and abilities in their job roles.
  • Be mindful of employee needs regarding information, tools and resources to do their jobs. Make them feel that they are working not just harder, but smarter!
  • Re-think training. Ensure that people don’t have just “narrow” technical skills, but also the capability to serve customers, manage change, and work effectively in teams, under time constraints and tight budgets.


Max Blumberg, Ph.d., Blumberg Partnership Founder, Visiting Professor at Leeds University Business School

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