Few companies have found the holy grail of management: high employee engagement. In the average company, about 32% of employees are actively engaged in their work and 20% actively disrupt operations. But for those who figure it out, the rewards are unmistakable. Companies who score at the top quartile of employee engagement outperform those in the bottom quartile on virtually every measure of success. The Gallup Organization finds the gap in performance between top and bottom quartile companies varies from a low of 10 to a high of 70 percentage points depending on what dimension of performance is studied. Here is a short sampling of those performance gaps.
Customer Loyalty: 10%
Product Quality: 40%
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a business icon to master the principles of employee engagement. You just have to observe what God does with Adam and Eve in Genesis. Almost everything we have learned about employee engagement is evident in the first three chapters of the Bible. Even if you don’t regard the Bible as authoritatively as I do, you will have to admit that it is all right there.
In the opening scenes of history, God is busy working and enjoying everything He produces. We meet Man, who is made in God’s image, as he is given the charge of caring for the garden and taking dominion over creation. Man was made to work and to enjoy it. People are proud of their work, and that pride is part of a virtuous cycle that energizes us to keep going. In contrast, people who aren’t productive often get caught up in a vicious cycle of learned helplessness, disengagement and depression.
When God spoke, heavenly bodies formed, water gathered, and life sprang into existence. When people try, they need to see results. When people try and see that their efforts have little effect, they become hopeless – even despondent.
Meaning motivates. In a recent survey conducted by ServiceNow, almost twice as many workers would ask their boss for more meaningful work (61%) than ask for a raise (34%), but as I said, this is old news.
After building galactic systems that interact at the cosmic, biological and nuclear levels, God hands off His creation to Adam. He charges Adam with stewarding the earth and all its resources, creating society, and carrying His image for eternity. In management lingo, we call that a highly “enriched job” – it is work that is meaningful, complex and challenging. I am hard-pressed to find anything more enriching than Adam and Eve’s work.
The Millennial generation is known for their unabashed desire for challenging work, but experts have long preached the motivational value of challenging work. From birth, people strive to learn new things, master skills, compete, test their mettle and overcome. Adam had all these challenges and the great reward of personal growth it produced.
To Adam, God gives Eve as his capable helper. She is his companion in every way, supplying Adam with love, connection, advice and strength. Yet, she is not Adam’s only companion. God walks with and mentors Adam in his work daily. In this, we see the need for love, trust and connection with co-laborers. Work that is unconnected with others is empty, while work performed with and for others engages the head, heart and hands of people.
I am fascinated and encouraged that leadership truths uncovered by people through years of formal research can be found in just the first three chapters of the Bible! Within these Biblical lessons on employee engagement, we derive other leadership precepts:
Support productivity so people feel energized and enthusiastic about their work
Ensure workers see the results of their effort
Design jobs to involve meaningful work, require problem-solving and promote learning
Challenge people with ambitious goals
Manage by walking about
Encourage genuine, caring, supportive relationships in the workplace
Build teams of people who spur on one another.
The implications of this revelation are profound. It tells us that we are made to work, that our Creator cares deeply about our day-to-day-work, and that God intends for our work to be productive and gratifying. It says that the labor of leading, creating and producing is holy, and that those who labor reflect God’s own image as they work. It suggests that God delights in the things we create, and in the services we render for one another. Since God delights in our work, we should too.
What do you think your business would look like if your team embraced these truths?
The Relationship Between Engagement at Work and Organizational Outcomes, 2016 Q12 Meta-Analysis: JAMES K. HARTER, PH.D., GALLUP FRANK L. SCHMIDT, PH.D., UNIVERSITY OF IOWA SANGEETA AGRAWAL, M.S., GALLUP STEPHANIE K. PLOWMAN, M.A., GALLUP ANTHONY BLUE, M.A., GALLUP
If you want to learn more about how to engage your team or are interested in ongoing business and leadership skill-development, consider joining a Convene Peer Advisory Group.
You can also learn more about work-life balance in this Convene White Paper, “Learning How to Make Your People More Successful”.
About the Author
Michael Boyes is seasoned consultant with 30 years of experience helping managers to lead with integrity and build healthy, productive organizations. His experience across industries and in ministry have led him to the conclusion that the pathway to success is paved with healthy relationships built on communication and trust. He believes that people, teams and organizations rise and fall based on the conversations they have and the conversations they don't have.