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Employee Engagement


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Is your organization aligned to a common direction?
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Employee Engagement

  1. 1. Employee EngagementIs your organization aligned to a commondirection?white paper | May 2012
  2. 2. Shikatani Lacroix is a leading branding and design firm located inToronto, Canada. The company commissions assignments fromall around the world, across CPG, retail and service industries,helping clients achieve success within their operating markets. Itdoes this by enabling its clients’ brands to better connect withtheir consumers through a variety of core services includingcorporate identity and communication, brand experience design,packaging, naming and product design.About the AuthorJean-Pierre Lacroix, R.G.D., President/Founder of ShikataniLacroixJean-Pierre (JP) Lacroix provides leadership and direction tohis firm, which was founded in 1990. He has spent the last 30years helping organizations better connect their brands withconsumers in ways that impact the overall performance of theirbusiness. Mr. Lacroix was the first to coin and trademark thestatement “The Blink Factor” in 1990, which today is acornerstone principle to how brands succeed in themarketplace. JP has authored several papers, has been quotedin numerous branding and design articles and, in 2001, he co-authored the book “The Business of Graphic Design,” which hassold over 10,000 copies. JP can be reached and you can follow his blogs and www.sldesignlounge.comOther Articles and BooksThe Belonging ExperienceManaging BrandsBusiness of Graphic Designwhite paper | May 2012 | Employee Engagement | 1
  3. 3. Employee, the true competitive advantageMost organizations are realizing that to effectively deliversustainable and consist growth, a different approach is requiredthat will ensure every aspect of the customer’s moments of truthis fully optimized. Organizations that have demonstrated topperformance, irrespective of the current economic challenges,understand that employee engagement is a critical factor thatdrives business success. As the pressures to maintain acompetitive advantage grow, and more complex businessmodels are needed to deliver differentiation, companies arerediscovering that their most compelling point of difference istheir employees. Companies that constantly win the J.D. PowersCustomer Service Award for delivering outstanding customerservice also outpace the industry they serve.In a recent Gallup study, it was noted that disengaged employeeserode an organization’s bottom line and contribute to more than$300 billion in productivity losses in the U.S. alone. Our ownexperience working with the retail and package sectors supportsthese findings. We were recently retained to assist a large energyorganization in creating internal employee alignment andsupport around a new brand position that would allow the retaildivision to meet very challenging performance requirements. Theinsights of the initial discovery revealed that each divisionmanaged its employees differently, while the organizationpromoted growth from within. By reducing the confusion andinconsistency between the divisions, employees were betteraligned to the overall goals and direction of the company. Thisreduced training time and ensured each employee felt valued,respected and empowered.white paper | May 2012 | Employee Engagement | 2High-engagementfirms had totalshareholderreturn that was19% higher thanthe average in2009. In low-engagementorganizations,total shareholderreturn wasactually 44%below averageHewitt Associates, 2010
  4. 4. The triangulation of employee engagementIn reviewing the majority of our clients who have achievedoutstanding business results through engaged employees, there arethree codependent factors that this paper will explore. These threefactors are aligned to our firm’s “brand engagement triangle” model,which incorporates a process, message and structure that ensuresstrong brand affinity.The three factors to ensuring a successful employee engagementprogram are:1. Process: Empowering TrainingMost organizations pay little attention to training, and whenit’s required, it tends to be task oriented and not aligned tothe vision of the organization. Most successful organizationsput much emphasis in employee training throughout theindividual’s career.2. Messaging: Clarity of DirectionA clearly defined vision and direction for the organizationthat has been translated in actionable employee strategies atall levels, in addition to visual metaphors that talk to theaspirations of all involved. We define the intersection ofcompany vision with employee needs as the EVP (employeevalue proposition) dimension.3. Structure: Integrated MeritocracyKey performance metrics that align the desired behaviour ofthe employees with those of the organization and a reviewprocess that allows for changes in behaviour.white paper | May 2012 | Employee Engagement | 3
  5. 5. Defining the ChallengeOptimum employee engagement results when the employee’sjob satisfaction (doing what they enjoy and excel at) contributesto the success and needs of the organization. Based on 20 yearsof experience helping companies manage their brands acrossretail, service, and consumer packaged goods sectors, we’vefound the challenge for effective employee engagement occurswhen the following factors are not aligned within theorganization:Company culture: The culture of the organization is either notwell or structured to embrace employee engagement. Conflictsbetween all levels of the organization occur on a regular basisand impede the company from initiating effective employeeprograms.Lack of clear direction: It’s hard to engage employees if theorganization is not clear on the direction the company is taking.A clearly defined direction that is sustainable, with clearlydefined goals and metrics, ensures that everyone is focused onthe same needs.Conflicting agendas: Some organizations may call it working in“silos” while others define it as “fiefdoms,” those feudal turf warsthat align employees behind separate and divergent seniormanagement agendas.Inconsistent meritocracy: Peter Drucker once said, “What getsmeasured gets done and what gets rewarded gets repeated.”Organizations with inconsistent evaluation methods and rewardsystems create tension within the organization and drives alower lack of recognition by employees.Inconsistent and outdated training: Employees need to besupported to succeed. Providing them with the right training isparamount. However, training is one of the first line items to beeliminated during yearly budget planning sessions, or not fullyfunded to remain current and relevant to the direction of thecompany.white paper | May 2012 | Employee Engagement | 4Fewer thanone in threeemployeesworldwide (31%)are engaged.Nearly one infive (17%) areactuallydisengaged.BlessingWhite EmployeeEngagement Report 2011
  6. 6. Process: Empowering TrainingOne of the most effective approaches in employee engagementis demonstrating that employees are valued by investing in theirtraining and continuing development, and by applying itconsistently throughout the career of the employees. Thetraining program must be integrated at all levels of theorganization’s chain of command to build a strong culture ofengagement.At its foundation, the training program must have a clearunderstanding of the key tangible and emotional drivers requiredto ensure employees work effectively. The training material andits delivery must align with the given employee’s career stageand aspirational needs. We have noted programs that leverageemployees’ capabilities, abilities, and aspirations with those ofthe organization tend to generate the best results inunderstanding and application of learning. In the case of oneclient, the training formed part of the employees’ career path andsupported a strong understanding of the gaps in the employees’current capabilities versus the desired state.Other strong platforms for engagement are training programsthat tier the information, starting with the organization’s overallgoals, vision, and mission, then align it with the employee’scapabilities to fit within the greater context of the organization’sdirection. Unfortunately, I have found that employee training onthe brand promise and vision of the organization is greatlylacking, as the majority of training programs focus on task anddiscipline oriented needs and do not consider the greatercontext of the organization. This leads to a siloed learningprocess that does not support an understanding of the greatercontext of the company.white paper | May 2012 | Employee Engagement | 5
  7. 7. Message: Clarity of DirectionHow do employees know what role they play in achieving companysuccess if there is not clarity of direction? Very often, the brandvision and mission have lost relevancy or were developed as part ofa tactical advertising campaign with very little regard to how it willbe lived within the organization. Employees also tend to be skepticalof such initiatives as they are perceived as a marketing initiative.Employees often have very little understanding of how the vision ofthe company impacts their daily job functions. Such gaps inunderstanding and lack of clarity lead to a dysfunctionalorganization that has short-term tactical goals versus an aspirationallong-term vision of where the organization can effectively succeed,and how employees can play a critical role.Great market leaders understand that it’s not only imperative todevelop a meaningful vision and mission, but it’s equally importantto match these aspirational goals to those of their employees. Wedefine this bridge between the company’s aspiration and that of theemployee’s as an employee value proposition or EVP. EVP programscreate a sustainable link between the direction of the company andthe aspirations and job performance of the employees, at all levels ofthe organization.A second factor to ensure employees are engaged and aligned tothe corporate direction is to convert much of the corporate speakinto visual metaphors that capture the aspirational needs of theorganization in succinct images and words that are easy to graspand understand. Only through the combination of a well-craftedvision and mission statement supported through an EVP programthat has been visually translated can an organization ensure a higherengagement level of its employees.white paper | May 2012 | Employee Engagement | 6
  8. 8. Structure: Integrated MeritocracyA key opportunity to leverage the intersection of an organization’sdirection with the actions of its employees is through a well thought-out meritocracy program. Rewarding good behavior that is alignedwith the organization’s needs is the foundation of any employeeengagement program, as it speaks to the fundamentals ofrelationships and the need for recognition.A well integrated meritocracy program clearly identifies both thesoft and hard tangible metrics defining success for both theindividual, the division and the organization. We have found thatalthough each organization has a structured evaluation andcompensation program, how these are aligned to the capabilitiesand abilities of the individual throughout their career path is not wellthought out. The rewards systems that motivate new and youngerhires may be quite different from those that drive employees whoare in the middle of their careers. An integrated performanceevaluation program needs all types of employees into considerationif the company wishes to retain the best and motivate them inrelevant ways.We have worked with organizations that have created employeecareer intranets that allow each individual to review pastperformance evaluations, training programs, reference material anda range of job postings for advancement. It allows each employee tohave access to the most relevant information for their career growthwithin the organization.white paper | May 2012 | Employee Engagement | 7
  9. 9. ConclusionThe economic climate continues to challenge even the bestorganization and this environment is fraught with distractions toensure employees are aligned with what matters. Withorganizational layoffs and restructuring in response to theunpredictability of the market, companies will need to put greateremphasis on employee engagement at a time where budgets arebeing cut on everything but the most critical needs.Companies who understand the importance of an engagedemployee base will continue to strive and create greaterdifferentiation in both revenues, margin and market share. Theopportunity for most is to up their game in employee engagementthrough a thorough application of our engagement model, ensuringan integrated and cohesive approach to aligning the needs of theorganization with the aspirations and capabilities of the employees.white paper | May 2012 | Employee Engagement | 8
  10. 10. For more information, contact:Jean-Pierre Lacroix, PresidentShikatani Lacroix387 Richmond Street EastToronto, OntarioM5A 1P6Telephone: 416-367-1999Email: jplacroix@sld.comwhite paper | May 2012 | Employee Engagement | 9