An employee of GE once said to Jack Welch. “You have paid for my hands for 24 years, but you could have had my brain for free.” Manipulative and memorable line, you will agree, and one that proves even the most successful companies fails to engage all employees. It was a big issue then, it’s still a big issue now.

Far from being just a concept in management books, employee engagement is essential to a company’s productivity. There are extensive studies showing that organizations with high employee engagement significantly increase their odds of above-average performance across their businesses. Companies that understand and implement employee engagement as a core strategy are those companies whose employees will be more profitable, more customer-focused, more motivated to succeed and less likely to leave the organization.

Real life, though, is not that poetic. According to a recent survey on Employee Engagement in the US Workforce from Modern Survey‘, it seems that only 10% of US employees feel they are fully engaged in the company they work for. 24% are “moderately engaged”, 30% feel they are “disengaged” and a staggering 37% are “under engaged”.

Now, understanding that all effort to keep company staff satisfied increases productivity is the first logical step in engaging employees. The second one is to figure out how to do it and where to act. Measuring the engagement level in any organization is complicated business, but spending a couple of hours immersed in online studies can reveal several words that pop up as drivers in engagement, so it shouldn’t be that complicated to start working on the process. Why then, it happens that we have these catastrophic results? Why are, in fact, companies around the world struggling with this particular subject?

Well, taking a step back and looking at the big picture might shed some light and show all of us that in order for the engagement to work, there are two important things that need to happen:

1. First of all, companies have to make the first step.

2. Second, employees need to respond.

Now, the reason why we’re posting about employee engagement on the blog of a CRM company is because we believe things are so inextricably linked that it would be foolish of companies to lose sight of this.

Usually, companies only approach employee engagement in that they try to make the employee feel good about his particular job. Well, we feel the time has come to integrate the employee in the bigger goals of the company, be it sales, recruitment or whatever else. In the social networking world where CRM is becoming big business, employee networks are becoming more and more valuable and relevant to companies.

As long as privacy issues are addressed (as we’ve already explained here) companies and employees stand to benefit from understanding the networks that link their mutual interests.

What if…

…when hiring new employees, companies could have a system to analyze a candidate’s personal network of contacts and understand which position would be better suited for each candidate?

…there was a way to understand who knows who within the network of all employees?

…the first level of employee engagement measurement would be to understand how many employees share their networks visible or invisible (as explained here) with other colleagues, for the mutual benefit of all parties involved?

…when targeting a potential client, companies could search within the overall network of employees for connections at the respective company and what if the sales people could benefit from going into the meeting referred by a colleague, in order to avoid useless, inefficient cold calls?

…when closing a deal made through such a referral, the employee would also receive an incentive?

…when hiring new employees, HR departments would first of all look for candidates within the friends of actual employees, in order to find more relevant data and recommendations?

…when successfully finishing a hiring process done through an employee connection, the employee would receive a week-end trip to Paris, as an incentive?

These are scenarios happening now in Clintelica. As soon as companies understand that employees are social not only in their personal lives, but also at work, the engagement process will rocket to a whole new dimension. And CEO’s all over the world will elegantly avoid the drama of being told “you could have had my network for free”.

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