Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

How a Disengaged Workforce is Costing You Money

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Guest post by Jüri Kaljundi

As a CEO, I make sure that at the end of the week I know what every member of my team is up to and they know that I know. Why? Because I believe that for most companies, especially start-ups, the greatest challenges can only be solved with a highly engaged and motivated team.

I think that it doesn’t come as a big surprise to anyone, but having a motivated and strong workforce is vital to every company. The problem is, that although, in theory, most leaders acknowledge the need for taking care of employees, only one third of the workforce in US is engaged at any given year. But engagement and worker happiness are not topics we can only talk about to make us look good. We must actually make them feel good.

If you spend a little time with the numbers, you’ll see the importance of this topic:

  • companies with engaged workforce have 2.5 times more revenue then their competitors;
  • they also have twice the annual income;
  • highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to quit – and training new workers is expensive.

Therefore, we can see that low engagement and motivation cost companies real money and resources. Of course it’s impossible for a CEO of a big company to have 1 on 1 meetings or feedback sessions with hundreds of workers. But the CEO can get input from his department heads, who get it from their project managers etc. 

Two-way communication

To simplify, engagement in a company is achieved by a chain of two-way communications. Managers and leadership must know what their teams are doing and individual workers must know why they’re doing things and what their bosses think of their work. This requires daily interactions with managers and some sort of weekly feedback system for the entire company.

The widely used yearly formal review is not enough and most people don’t like it. Best result are achieved by a continuous informal feedback. This process is less patronizing than formal review and, if managed correctly, actually takes very little time.

This is the reason we developed Weekdone: to make progress reporting as painless and smooth as possible. It needs to be playful and for employees, familiar. So we made it look a little like social networking, which, when you think about it, it is.

A company is a community, a group of people working together to accomplish a common goal. Most people already are connected with their community, causes and friends through social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, so it’s easy for them to communicate their work through similar channels. They won’t get a negative emotion out of it.

Highly engaged workers are usually highly motivated. They have a clear sense of what they are doing and what’s expected of them and therefore there is a purpose to their work. They are less likely stressed due to feeling unimportant or unneeded. That also means that your customers they communicate with get a better and a more positive experience.

In this day and age it’s important to get any advantage over your competitors that’s possible. With only 1/3 of the US workforce engaged, taking steps to improve your own company, making the chance that’s possible for you, can go a long way in the long run.

Jüri Kaljundi is a co-founder of Weekdone weekly team management service that makes managers and employees more productive and CV-Online, a 19 years old Internet recruitment company in the Baltics. He’s also a co-founder of Garage48 – regional non-profit start-up foundation, organizing weekend hackathons in the Baltics, Nordics and Africa.

He’s a product guy with tech background and sales and marketing management experience.


Twitter: https://twitter.com/jkaljundihttps://twitter.com/jkaljundi

The Product Management Perspective: As a product manager you can help increase employee engagement by creating great products people want to build, market and sell. Especially on the engineering side, building exciting products will energize the people who are doing the work at the ground level. The more excited people are about the work they’re doing, the more engaged they will be in the success of the company.

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