Are your top performers truly engaged? Premium

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A survey by the firm Leadership IQ published in February 2013 offers a new perspective on the relationship between engagement and performance. Against all expectations, the study shows that in more than two out of five companies, top performers are actually less engaged than low performers. This discovery invites leaders to rethink the notion of engagement.

Engagement as a factor of performance
According to the latest Gallup study, conducted in 2012, engagement has a real impact on performance, including on customer loyalty, profitability, productivity, turnover, security, absenteeism, quality, and so on. Consequently, a more human style of management is emerging that focuses on wellbeing. Four needs must be met in order to motivate employees:
• The drive to acquire material gains (salary) but also immaterial ones (recognition and status)
• The drive to bond or a sense of belonging within the company
• The drive to comprehend the company environment
• The drive to establish a sense of trust and security

Performance does not positively influence engagement
On the other hand, however, performance is not a good indicator of engagement. Your top performers are not necessarily your most engaged employees. This surprising fact is due to:
• A management problem: Companies maintain low expectations of underperformers, which increases the workload of top performers, who often also inherit poorly done work
• A leadership issue: Rarely included in strategic planning, high performers feel as if they have no control over their own success.

Create a virtuous circle of engagement and performance
How can you motivate again top performers who are disengaged?
• Value quality work with a fair system of recognition
• Include top performers in strategic planning
• Reenergize work by promoting a culture that encourages teamwork
• Establish practices that help people to manage their workloads better and encourage everyone to invest in their own personal wellbeing

Read our dossier
Are your top performers really engaged?

Based on “Increasing the ‘meaning quotient’ of work” by Susie Cranston and Scott Keller (McKinsey Quarterly, January 2013), “Employee Engagement: Every Leader’s Imperative” by Meghan M. Biro (Forbes, May 2013), “Job Performance Not a Predictor of Employee Engagement” by Mark Murphy (Leadership IQ, February 2013), and “New Research: How Employee Engagement Hits the Bottom Line” by Tony Schwartz (Harvard Business Review, November 2012).
Business Digest nº 238, July-August 2013.

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