Boosting Employee Engagement: How BizOps Can Help

    A recent article showed employee engagement was on an upswing recently, which is good. Still, I’d argue it’s not nearly at the level it could or should be. In this post, I look at the positive impact BizOps can have on improving employee engagement.

    Employee Engagement: Are We There Yet?

    Generally speaking, I’m a “glass half-full” kind of person. I tend to look at the positive side of reports and figures, finding signs of progress and grounds for optimism when I can. Then again, I guess 2020 has been a tough year for optimists.

    However, even in spite of that, I was struck by my reaction to the “good news” in a recent update on employee engagement from Gallup.1 In their article, they reported that, after a drop, employee engagement figures hit a new high of 40%. While I understand that any time there’s an uptick in these numbers, it’s a good thing, my strongest reaction to this news was to look at the glass as being significantly less than half full.

    This reaction was bolstered when I read that 47% are “not engaged.” According to Gallup’s definition, when not engaged, employees “are psychologically unattached to their work and company. They're also on the lookout for better employment opportunities and will quickly leave their company for a slightly better offer.”

    Even worse? The percentage of “actively disengaged” employees remained consistent, around 13%. Gallup describes actively disengaged employees in this way:

    “Actively disengaged employees are more or less out to damage their company. They monopolize managers’ time; have more on-the-job accidents; account for more quality defects; contribute to “shrinkage” or theft; are sicker; miss more days; and quit at a higher rate than engaged employees do. Whatever the engaged do—such as solving problems, innovating, and creating new customers—the actively disengaged try to undo.”2

    Actively disengaged employees are therefore a force-multiplier for negative outcomes. It’s not just that they provide limited value, it’s that they actively impede results and progress—not just for themselves, but for others across the organization.

    In a typical workforce, more than one in ten employees are actively disengaged—actively countering progress for the business. Further, almost half are unattached, and biding their time until something better comes along. Given this, it seems hard to feel like the 40% figure is a cause for celebration.

    Employee Engagement, and the Promise of BizOps

    With that as a backdrop, the optimist in me finds it particularly nice to point to some good news. In several recent blog posts and articles, we’ve outlined the positive impact BizOps can have on employee engagement.

    What is BizOps? BizOps is a data-driven framework for decision making. Through this discipline, teams can connect IT departments with business functions, and ultimately align technology investments to business outcomes. More than ever, these efforts represent a critical digital transformation framework for enterprises.

    Recently, my colleague, Serge Lucio, posted a new article on the Forbes Tech Council site. Entitled, “Engaging The Disengaged: Can BizOps Improve Your Employees' Experience?,” the article examined how BizOps can help fuel enhanced employee engagement and efficacy. As Serge explained, “As you link IT outputs to business outcomes, you benefit by giving your teams more direction and greater partnership with business teams. By cultivating an enhanced sense of purpose and better enabling them to add value, BizOps boosts employee engagement, meaning staff will be more likely to make better decisions and achieve better results.”

    The aforementioned Gallup article included this statement: “Only 42% of employees strongly agree that their supervisor keeps them informed on what is going on in the organization.” To me, it isn’t a surprise that this pretty much directly aligns with the percentage of engaged employees. While there are many factors that can play a role in whether employees are engaged or not, this level of communication between managers and employees is absolutely critical.

    In a prior blog post, I outlined how a lack of transparency is one of the top challenges in digital transformation. In too many teams, core strategic concepts around direction, purpose, and values aren’t clearly understood.

    Through BizOps, teams can correlate IT outputs with business outcomes, such as conversion rates, sales per hour, user retention rates, and so on. By gaining more clarity about how their efforts map to high-level business outcomes, individuals from across the organization can gain a much stronger sense of purpose. This enhanced sense of purpose boosts employee engagement, meaning staff will be more likely to make better decisions and achieve better results.

    Finally, in my prior blog post on information silos, I outlined how silos aren’t just a technical problem: they’re very much a people problem as well. These silos leave teams struggling with internal competition, faulty planning, finger pointing, and a lack of purpose—all of which can seriously undermine employee engagement. By employing BizOps methodologies, teams can be united by a clear purpose, one centered on business outcomes. Therefore, BizOps can be a great way to eliminate silos, and in the process, boost employee engagement.

    1. Gallup, “U.S. Employee Engagement Hits New High After Historic Drop,” Jim Harter, July 22, 2020, URL: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/316064/employee-engagement-hits-new-high-historic-drop.aspx

    2. Gallup, “Gallup’s Employee Engagement Science,” https://q12.gallup.com/help/en-us/about