Fast Track: Keep the workers happy...

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The Independent Culture
It sounds obvious. But - for all the emphasis on the importance of individuals to organisational success - it is typical that recent findings linking employee attitudes with business performance should be regarded as amounting to a "breakthrough".

Research unveiled by the Gallup Organisation indicates that where employees have above-average attitudes towards their work, there are 22 per cent higher productivity rates, 38 per cent higher customer satisfaction scores, 27 per cent higher profits and 22 per cent better employee retention.

Marcus Buckingham, Gallup vice-president, told a seminar attended this month by such companies as British Aerospace, BT, Nationwide Building Society and Standard Life Assurance that the survey showed that "soft" numbers, such as customer-loyalty development, brand value and employee engagement, might be as significant in describing the effectiveness of a business and in developing future strategies to improve performance, as profit and loss statements are at reporting the past.

"As companies, and indeed investors, increasingly appreciate the importance of retaining and motivating employees, so accurate measures of the strength of employee engagement in the workplace are urgently being sought," he said.

Based on its database of surveys of more than 1 million employees, Gallup identified 12 questions that consistently appeared to relate to the strength of the workplace and engagement of employees (see panel).

Further research conducted in the United States across nearly 42,000 employees and more than 1,100 business units and 17 companies found "significant correlations" between employees' responses and performance outcomes, such as profitability, productivity, employee retention and customer satisfaction.

Mr Buckingham added: "This research highlights the fundamental importance of the front-line manager or supervisor. It is he or she who dominates the employee's work environment.

"A manager who sets clear expectations and knows, trusts and invests in each individual is likely to produce a healthy and productive work environment. It is better to work for a great manager in an old-fashioned company than a poor manager in a sophisticated company with enlightened, employee-focused practices."

Are you a Cheerful colleague?

How would you respond to Gallup's 12 Workplace Audit Statements?

I know what is expected of me at work.

I have the materials and equipment that I need to do my work right.

At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for good work.

My supervisor or someone at work seems to care about me as a person.

There is someone at work who encourages my development.

In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.

At work, my opinions seem to count.

The mission/purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.

My associates (fellow employees) are committed to doing quality work.

I have a best friend at work.

This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.