As an organizational-behavior-management professional, it is relatively common for business leaders to tell me of their employee engagement strategies. I hear about casual dress days, wine parties, cappuccino machines, new compensation plans, flexible schedules, increasing work-from-home days, wellness and gaming apps, training, stock purchase plans, and bring-your-dog-to-work days. I hear about golf putting contests in the hallways, concierge services, and massage schedules. I also hear about their “employee engagement” surveys.

Then, being a relatively decent listener, I often inquire:

  • Are employees staying longer?
  • Are people lining up to come to work for you?
  • Are manageable human-capital expenses going down?
  • Are profits up?
  • Is organizational productivity increasing?

My questions prompt what appears to be thoughtfulness, but often these executives don’t know or can’t answer my inquiry. Sometimes they take on the countenance of Eeyore—the friendly but depressed donkey in Winnie the Pooh stories. They know their engagement scores are flat or failing. They are also just plain tired of it all, thinking and feeling helpless to resolve it. Sometimes they just wish they could outsource all employees to a vendor, perhaps a staffing company.

Today, more than ever before, employee-centric (as opposed to employer centric) needs assessment, aligned solutions, communications, and evaluation measures are critical to successfully execute a growth and productivity strategy.

Even in today’s COVID environment, it remains necessary to understand the real reasons why people come to your organization, why people stay, and why people would or wouldn’t work for you again. To responsibly intervene, reduce human capital expense, and increase productivity – an organization needs to KNOW and ACT.