An engaged workforce is often the hallmark of companies known for their innovation. Business success in the Great Recession, however, requires a slight twist -- using innovation to engage your employees.
Two snapshots in time from Towers Watson (formerly Towers Perrin) tell the story.
Global Workforce Study, 2007-2008
Global Workforce Study, 2010
Employees have extremely low confidence in their leaders. Employees say they want a senior leader who:
So - engaged employees produce outstanding business results. But engaging them in this economic environment requires a major commitment from organizational leaders.
The payoff is more profound when you consider that employee engagement doesn't have to be expensive.
A visitor to the Las Vegas offices of Zappos finds people working, but also lots of chit-chatting and "a party down the hall that's been going on for an hour."
Zappos may have a weird workplace - but it's also one of the world's most successful online retailers. One person's weirdness is another person's innovation - with an admirable return on investment.
Employee Engagement Champions
The HP Digital Strategy organization is helping redesign the HP.com website - the most ambitious site makeover in the company's history. It's imperative for the team to feel valued, empowered and recognized during a period of great challenges.
To help do this, we created the Employee Engagement Champions Program. We give the volunteer "champions" the freedom to use their creativity and innovative spirit to help foster positive changes in our offices around the world.
Employee champion projects have included brown bag lunches with noontime speakers on professional topics of interest and informal potluck "block parties."
The activities give leaders a chance to talk to team members informally, to learn more about them and their families. In addition to making a positive contribution, the program gives the "champions" a chance to hone their project management and leadership skills.
The champions share ideas via monthly meetings, an internal social media tool and a newsletter. They can also draw from:
All of this costs very little - and helps fulfill many of the expectations expressed in the 2010 Global Workforce study. It just takes imagination and a willingness to try to new things - in other words, a little innovation goes a long way.