Driving Competitive Advantage Through Employee Engagement

In a highly competitive business environment, the active management of employee engagement is a critical aspect of sustaining competitive advantage and driving organizational effectiveness. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), 84% of senior leaders say that disengaged employees are one of the top three biggest challenges facing their business. This fear is founded with studies suggesting that only 29% of the workforce can be classified as being engaged with 71% of employees falling into the category of not-engaged or actively-disengaged. Even with the breadth of this issue, only 12% of organizational leaders identify themselves as having plans in place to actively address employee engagement problems.

Employee engagement has started to become of increased focus to organizations with recent studies identifying engaged employees as 43% more productive and outperforming their peers by 47% to 202%. The productivity gains achieved through engaged employees carry forward directly affecting organizational success. When comparing median differences between top-quartile and bottom-quartile businesses the following variances were observed:


  • 12% higher customer ratings
  • 16% increased profitability
  • 25% lower turnover (high-turnover organizations), 49% lower turnover (low-turnover organizations),
  • 49% fewer safety incidents
  • 27% less shrinkage
  • 37% less absenteeism; and
  • 60% fewer quality defects.[i]

[/listdot]These successes resulted in organizations scoring in the top quartile on employee engagement surveys double their odds of success in comparison to those in the bottom quartile. When looking at the extremes, organizations falling into the 99th percentile have nearly five times the success rate as those at the 1st percentile.

Some strategies that can be utilized to drive employee engagement include:


Employees need to know the “big picture” – and how their tasks fit in the greater scheme of things.

Align and play to employee strengths

Ensure daily priorities fit with company objectives, mission and vision, and that the right players are on the field.

Educate and empower frontline managers

They need to know what engagement looks like and be able to model it themselves.

Weed out bad managers

Remove managers who are not willing to learn to carry out the above

Build a strong foundation

Managers need to get to know their people, align personal and organizational goals, provide coaching, recognition and feedback and match mission critical projects with employee skill sets and aspirations.

Cascade an engaged organization from the top

Ensure senior managers are inspired and actively engaged with organizational goals and outcomes. This will be syndicated throughout the organization.

Hold managers accountable for results and development

[i] Harter, J., Schmidt, F., Killham, E., & Sangeeta, A. (2009). The Relationship Between Engagement at Work and Organizational Outcomes. Gallup .

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