Sitting on a runway recently, I happened to read this article in the airline magazine. (http://www.spiritmag.com/click_this/article/cash_in_on_culture/). It related employee happiness to engagement. What company would not want engaged employees, right? No surprise there. Every business at least says they want engaged employees. Engaged employees are willing to go the extra mile for not only their colleagues and the organization, but customers. They help build the foundation for long term financial performance. What I found surprising were some of the statistics cited. For instance less than half of all Americans are happy at work, and 71 percent according to a 2011 Gallup poll said they are actually disengaged. That is truly shocking! Think about your own company, and particularly the R&D organization or anyone involved with the new product development process. The NPD process by its very nature can be chaotic and requires a high level of engagement. If nearly 3/4 of those employees feel disengaged, how is that affecting the companies ability to innovate? Bottom line is that it can drastically reduce a companies ability to innovate over the long term.
So who’s responsibility is it to have engaged employees? You cannot exactly call everyone together and basically proclaim: “You shalt be engaged….now, now, just go innnovate!”. Engaged employees are a reflection of the culture, and at the end of the day, the culture is the responsibility of senior management. In coming posts, I will talk much about management’s role in new product development, and certainly creating a culture where innovation can thrive is a key area where management must provide leadership.
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