Nothing is more important to a business than its employees. Period. Buildings, computers, machinery and other capital assets sometime play a critical role in enabling the business, but they can’t do much without being built, installed, configured, used and maintained by conscientious and meticulous individuals who care about what they do, and about the success of the business who employs them.

In its recent report titled “State of the American Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders”, Gallup  provides key metrics and trends on the effect of employee engagement (or lack thereof) on the US economy. Without getting into the details here, let’s just say that the numbers are staggering, and trends are not encouraging (you can get your own copy of the Gallup report here). The aggregate impact of employee disengagement is, in effect, slowing down the entire U.S. economy. 

How much is employee engagement, or disengagement, affecting your company?

In Marketing for example, the importance of engagement is not new, and its criticality is well understood. The Internet Marketing Association (IMA) often writes and talks about “engagement” as a key success factor for marketing campaigns. 

Truth is: the same philosophy and principles also apply on the inside: while customer engagement is critical to the top line, employee engagement is just as critical to generate the value that supports the top line, and it is essential to deliver the bottom line. 

For most businesses, engaging in productive ways with their employees frequently requires a paradigm shift culturally and operationally. In today’s environment, it is no longer sufficient for management to set goals and expect everyone to know and understand them. To properly formulate, plan and execute business strategies, management teams also need to listen from the ground up, and proactively work in the trenches to reinforce their objectives, communicate openly on what works and what does not, and solicit input from their employees on how to make things better. Finally, when employees respond with suggestions, management must act and implement change when needed.

Companies reach peak performance and maximum efficiency when everyone is aligned in their understanding, motivation, and actions. That alignment happens through the development of an organization optimally structured around stated objectives, executing well designed processes supported by the right tools and technologies, and enabled through the hiring, training and retention of the right skill sets, talent and personalities. 

In the final analysis, companies with a higher proportion of engaged employees simply perform better and achieve stronger financial results than their competition. Is your company operating at its peak?