To Thine Employees Be True (Part One)

Why retaining uninspired talent is more expensive than losing it

The rapid pace of innovation has created a fundamental shift in workplace dynamics as the values, aspirations, and expectations of a multi-generational team become increasingly complex and personal.

So how can you effectively identify deeply rooted employee motivations, galvanize the masses, and turn individuals into a high-functioning team? How can you cultivate a culture of community, where all employees understand the value of their contributions in alignment with the overarching organizational vision so they bring their best selves to work every day?

It begins and ends with engagement—the secret sauce that separates companies that fail from those that thrive.

In today’s environment, business leaders that clearly define their mission and design employee engagement strategies with personalized motivations in mind are better poised to attract, retain, and inspire visionary talent that stands the test of time. Companies that empower their teams with the role clarity, coaching, and encouragement needed to chase their dreams and bring compelling new ideas to fruition exude authenticity, likeability, and allegiance. When executed successfully, these internal brand ambassadors pay it forward tenfold by delivering unparalleled performance and quality service that transforms customers into lifelong loyalists.

The philosophy that better employee engagement leads to drives lasting business outcomes was amplified by Harvard Business Review in the 1990s. This framework for success, coined the “service-profit chain,” asserts that internal service quality drives employee satisfaction, which sets off a chain reaction that results in loyalty, productivity, external service value (value to the client), customer satisfaction and allegiance, and ultimately profitability and growth.

Conversely, if leaders fail to cultivate a nurturing environment where employees feel valued, respected, and recognized, the first link in the chain will break and inevitably damage their ability to drive the memorable experiences and critical innovations customers demand. An unengaged workforce creates a catastrophic ripple effect throughout the organization, leading to poor-quality performance, lack of commitment and pride in their work, and underwhelming stakeholder and customer experiences. In that vein, retaining uninspired talent is more expensive than losing it.

Source: Harvard Business Review

Adding to the talent puzzle are the ramifications that come with costly, mismanaged, unengaged contract labor. According to our report with the Economist Intelligence Unit profiling the trends and implications of managing a gig workforce as a strategic asset, 60% of decision-makers expect the use of contract labor to grow over the next five years. Even best-in-class companies struggle to maximize talent pools thick with contractor labor. In order to address this challenge, business leaders must make strategic investments in their employee engagement and managed services strategies to compete effectively amid market disruption.

On a mission to put the strategy that strong engagement drives strong results into action, a leading Fortune 100 company partnered with North Highland to operationalize a scalable managed services solution designed to optimize its PMO by focusing on these complex human capital issues. As part of this effort, we conducted an assessment of the client’s capability gaps and operational maturity levels, which revealed inconsistency in standardized ways of working. We then discovered that the team wasn’t properly acclimated to the organization’s mission and vision, steeped in their brand promise, entrenched in their respective roles, or empowered with the culture of community needed for the team to feel connected to something bigger than themselves. Recognizing that change starts from within, North Highland designed a robust employee engagement framework to implement critical operational levers and successfully transform a team of uninspired employees into star performers over the course of six months.

We understand that the vast majority of today’s workforce is primed for greatness and capable of driving transformative results. To shine, employees need the motivation, inspiration, and connection to a higher purpose. In a nutshell, when employees have a strong pulse on the business imperatives and industry dynamics at play, they’re empowered to produce revolutionary ideas that bolster operational efficiencies and drive substantial business impact. The proof is in the pudding: powerful employee engagement truly does ignite impactful outcomes.

When designing your managed services or talent management process, consider these three critical steps to employee engagement success:

  1. Link the workforce to the broader mission. As a leader, it’s imperative to help employees understand their role, how they fit into the broader corporate ecosystem, and how their unique contributions align with the organization’s higher purpose.
  2. Cultivate community. Humans are intrinsically motivated by a sense of belonging, so it’s crucial to cultivate a community of camaraderie, compassion, and collaboration. This can manifest in a multitude of ways: coaching and mentoring sessions; lunch and learns with specialized experts; all-hands meetings to foster an open dialogue where ideas, feedback, and concerns are valued; and other connection opportunities to refine and apply industry standards.
  3. Be a servant leader. The most successful leaders champion their team’s career development and advancement. They’re deeply committed to supporting each employee’s personalized passions and aspirations while challenging, inspiring, and equipping them with the tools needed to pursue more strategic endeavors and effectively propel their careers to new heights.

Human capital is an organization’s most valuable asset. Business leaders must embrace the demands of an evolving workforce to retain world-class talent, and once onboard, leaders must inspire them to set the customer experience gold standard. At North Highland, our managed services solution is designed to advance employee value while fulfilling capacity requirements, building skillsets, and recruiting star candidates to enable our clients. This creates indispensable teams that effectively move the needle and positively impact the bottom line.

In our next blog in this managed services series, we take a closer look at how to effectively win the talent war and keep star performers at your door. Or check out the last blog in the series where we discuss the velocity of change and how a workforce that isn’t adaptable isn’t valuable.