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23 Jan. 2013 | Comments (0)

Watch our November 2012 Book Discussion webcast, featuring authors, Geoffrey Matthews and Linda Holbeche, Ph.D., as they discuss their book, Engaged: Unleashing Your Organization's Potential Through Employee Engagement.

While dropping off the fiscal cliff may have been averted at the last minute, the economic climate at the start of 2013 still seems far from encouraging. The U.S. debt ceiling is still unresolved, and The Conference Board Leading Economic Index decreased in November, pointing to slow growth in the U.S. economy for the first half of this year. Other major economies are faring worse – Japan has been in recession for two decades, while the debt crisis in the Eurozone continues to grind on with little respite in sight. More than four years past the start of the global financial crisis, what can help businesses progress? Moreover, what have you decided to do in 2013 as a response to this situation? Are you focused on the right actions?

Most have taken obvious steps, such as trimming costs, refocusing their business, or sharpening up their marketing activities. You could do the same, but, chances are, you would receive meagre returns. It’s tempting to think that all that needs to be done now is to hunker down and wait patiently for the upturn to come, but there is one source of competitive advantage that many businesses are not yet tapping, and which could help them survive and thrive in the current economic climate. Despite considerable evidence that has been amassed showing that companies with engaged employees outperform their peers in terms of growth and profitability, repeated surveys typically demonstrate only a minority of workers are positively engaged at work. However, what if this could be turned around? What if you could count on your employees’ passion – and not just their presence? What difference could that make for your business results if your organization was really buzzing with energy, creativity, and commitment?

In the U.K., the issue of employee engagement has even become a topic of public policy, with Prime Minister, David Cameron, creating a taskforce to help address the issue, as this topic is seen as being a brake on productivity that could be costing the U.K. economy as much as £25.8bn (US$42.6bn)[1]. Previous estimates for the U.S. economy have produced correspondingly higher figures. So, if this has such a major impact on the bottom line, isn’t it time this became a priority for businesses too? 

Some businesses have already discovered that employee engagement has had a tremendous impact on their results, from companies as diverse as Campbell’s Soup and Unilever to Marriott Hotels and Royal Bank of Canada. Some leaders may be concerned that addressing people-related issues risks being too complex, or that the results may take too long to materialise. However, our own research contradicts this. In our recent book, Engaged: Unleashing Your Organization's Potential Through Employee Engagement[2], we have drawn on the experience of various organizations to show that the steps to increase engagement are often simple, straightforward, and can take effect quickly. What’s more, companies that make employee engagement a priority will now also reap a second benefit in the eventual upturn, as their employees will have seen that they were a priority in bad times as well as good, which should help in terms of retaining talent and attracting new employees in the future.

January is the usual time for businesses to reflect on the past year and decide on their strategies for the year ahead. At the top of your organization’s 2013 priority list, shouldn’t you be adding employee engagement? Human Resources can help you – but it shouldn’t be delegated entirely to them, as the credibility of engagement efforts depend on top management support and sponsorship.

So why not add employee engagement to the “to do” list for your business in 2013 – and make it number 1 too? It might just prove to be the one action that makes the most difference.   

View our complete listing of Employee Engagement blogs.


[2]  The book Engaged was also the subject of a Conference Board Human Capital webcast last November 20th.

  • About the Author: Linda Holbeche Ph.D.

    Linda Holbeche Ph.D.

    Linda is co-Director of The Holbeche Partnership (THP), a research-based development consultancy. Linda has a strong interest in helping organisations and individuals achieve sustainable high performa…

    Full Bio | More from Linda Holbeche Ph.D.

  • About the Author: Geoffrey Matthews

    Geoffrey Matthews

    Geoffrey Matthews is an experienced HR executive with an extensive background in employee engagement, organizational development, rewards, and international HR. He is co-author with Linda Holbeche of …

    Full Bio | More from Geoffrey Matthews


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