Many employees, even if they are fortunate to have a job, dread going to work each day. Employers have cut back on the size of their workforce and are making excessive demands that are leading many employees to feel stressed. They find it difficult to focus on their most important work activities due to endless meetings and constant interruptions by coworkers, text messages, and email. They also feel unappreciated and insecure in their jobs. Many also do not feel the work of their organization is important or meaningful.
According to a 2013 report by Gallup, only 30 percent of American employees feel engaged at work. The most common definitions of employee engagement are enthusiasm, commitment, pride, alignment with the goals of the organization, and eagerness to exert discretionary effort.
Organizations have been trying for the past decade to increase employee engagement because a growing body of research shows that engaging employees improves organizational performance.
Indeed, most employee surveys are now typically called Engagement Surveys to help organizations identify how to improve organizational performance by increasing employee engagement.
THE REST OF THE STORY
But increasing organizational performance is more complicated than that.
My organization, Discovery Surveys, has been conducting employee surveys for many years and has consistently found that there is much more to boosting organizational performance than improving employee engagement alone.
A recently published 2014 meta analysis white paper by IBM Corporation's Software Group agrees with this analysis and sites a convincing wealth of scientific research. (Download the report. )
In a nutshell, IBM's comprehensive review of the literature concludes that "Performance Excellence" is equally as important as "Employee Engagement."
Performance Excellence is "the extent to which an organization is strongly committed to high levels of customer service and product quality and relies upon continuous improvement practices to achieve superior organizational levels."
Our own research shows that not only do one third of employees question their organization's ability to provide excellent products and services, it also shows that:
Only 50 percent of employees believe their organization encourages them to continually improve the quality of their work; and
Only 40 percent say they receive enough information about customer satisfaction.
WHAT TO DO
Here are some practices that can be used to increase organizational performance by improving performance excellence. (At Discovery Surveys, assessing these issues is typically a standard part of our customized employee surveys.)
Correct customer problems quickly
Regularly use customer feedback to improve work processes
Maintain senior management's commitment to providing high quality products and services
Establish clear performance standards for products and services
Train and develop employees on customer needs
Involve employees in making decisions that affect their work
Create an environment that fosters strong employee teamwork and cooperation
Improving organizational performance requires improving both "Performance Excellence" and "Employee Engagement." Organizations need to focus on both.