The cost of creating an engaged workforce: debunking the money myth

There is simply no substantial positive correlation between employee engagement and earnings. Although money does play some role in retaining employees, it would seem that many well-paid employees often stay for the wrong reasons. This begs the question: In tough economic times when the bottom-line drops and pay and perks suffer, what does your organisation offer that will make employees choose to stay?

Echelon Purple’s research shows that if you want your employees to be more engaged and, as such, stay with your organisation for the right reasons, they require purposeful connection to their work and their employer. Being connected requires a strong sense of attraction, i.e. looking forward to coming to work (at this particular organisation), combined with activation, i.e. high levels of energy and positive emotion being applied at work. Both aspects of this inter-connectedness contribute to employee engagement.

In our experience, appropriate responses by organisations to create a more engaged workforce are not expensive and often carry a zero price tag. Generally, successful interventions require an adjustment in management style, which must be promoted and supported by the highest levels within the organisation. Therefore, employee engagement is far beyond the sole responsibility of HR. Employee engagement is a leadership issue, one that has very serious business consequences.

When it comes to engaging your employees, don’t just show them the money – show them the purpose too. In the words of Tom Malone: “It’s the soft stuff that is the hard stuff, but it’s the soft stuff that makes the difference.” It is critical for business leaders to get this right if they want their organisations to succeed. In a time that Gen Y are establishing themselves in the workplace, it becomes an imperative of the moment. Ultimately, it is a purposeful culture that matters more than a ‘perksful’ one.


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