Engaging Your Workforce Around the Work

Engagement with a purpose is the over-arching theme to building and sustaining a high-performing culture in a unique and measurable way.

While studies have consistently found a high positive correlation between employee engagement and financial performance, the data also shows that correlation is not necessarily causation; and while employee engagement is a necessary ingredient for high performance, like flour to a cake, it is not enough.

In contrast, “Engagement Around the Work” involves specific steps for achieving a culture of engagement that is inextricably linked with team productivity, performance and job satisfaction. It incorporates a clear objective of engaging people around the one thing they all have in common-and the one thing that can bring about increased profitability and a sustainable competitive edge: the work.

Consider that engagement for “engagement’s sake” has been a prevalent trend over the past several decades, and most of these engagement efforts have failed to yield tangible results. They have also failed the sustainability test.

As is the case with any improvement initiative, an ad-hoc approach involving little or no planning or structure, and lacking defined, measurable objectives, is prone to failure.

In contrast, a more focused approach of improving both the work and the workplace in a measurable way can result in high-levels of productivity, profitability and engagement. As explained by one successful leader in the field, “We engage employees in aggressive efforts to eliminate waste and reinvest those savings in ways that are visible and meaningful to the employees.”

This perspective is well-aligned with our approach, which differs from traditional attempts at employee engagement in two important ways:

A strong focus on productivity and continuous improvement as catalysts to engagement
A strong focus on measurement and return on investment
Driving productivity as a means of achieving and maintaining high-levels of workforce engagement enables an organization to more easily promote and reward desired behaviors, measure and document progress, and ultimately realize tangible results.

Equally as important, the measured return on investment enables leadership to further invest in the workforce as well as the workplace, thus promoting a culture of continuous improvement and engagement throughout.

The Concept of CPI²

As noted in a previous article, people are much more likely to become engaged when they feel productive… when they feel like they are achieving success and

that they are an important part of the organization’s success; when they feel that they have a voice in creating a better – and yes, more productive – workplace as well as a better future. Productivity leads to engagement, not the other way around.

This means we must create a culture that is based on improving all that we do (our work and our workplace) and which enables and empowers every employee at every level to make improvements through involvement and commitment – through being engaged!

Put another way:


People become increasingly engaged as they improve their work and workplace – as they become more productive and experience greater levels of job satisfaction while embracing a stronger belief in a secure future… a future they are helping to build and a future in which they have a voice.

The strategy involves two key components:

Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) – Attaining optimum results from your improvement effort requires an objective analysis, innovative vision and diligent execution. This means you need a methodology to gather, synthesize and analyze data, a rigorous method of priority-setting to decide what to work on (or to gather more data on), and effective and efficient ways to study, change and improve the work processes and the workplace.
Continuous People Involvement (CPI) – People at all levels must be educated, empowered and engaged so that the concept of improving both their work and their workplace becomes cultural.
This will involve identifying a clear link between individual, team and department performance and organizational goals, and helping people develop a clear sense of purpose.

In addition, leaders must create effective communication protocols to learn and

understand the things that are most meaningful to employees. They must also

devote the necessary time and attention to the performance management culture, and create a work environment that supports high quality and productivity. This will include:

Helping people at all levels understand the core values and beliefs which drive behavior.
Promoting practices that are in sync with organizational values and beliefs.
Clearly defining roles and responsibilities, performance gaps and accountabilities.
Helping managers develop and refine their skills and ability to coach for improved performance.
Recognizing achievement.
Since the combination of Continuous Process Improvement and Continuous People Involvement can yield breakthrough results, we refer to it as CPI².

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