2015’s Number One Issue: Culture and Engagement

culture and engagement
S Chris Edmonds
S. Chris Edmonds is a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He shares insights on organizational culture, servant leadership, employee engagement, and workplace inspiration. He writes books and articles and records podcasts. In his free time, he's a working musician with the Brian Raine band in Denver, CO.
S Chris Edmonds


I help leaders craft purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. Speaker, author, & executive consultant. Blogger & video-caster. @BrianRaineBand mate.
RT @scedmonds: Excited about the launch of the 2nd edition of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go ( https://t.co/cQytEDqw2U ) by @Julie_WG and… - 5 hours ago
S Chris Edmonds

Culture and Engagement are urgent priorities

The Deloitte organization recently released it’s “2015 Global Human Trends” report. More than 3300 business and HR leaders from more than 100 countries were surveyed or interviewed.

The good news: there are engaged workers in global workplaces. They contribute passion, skills, and energy to help their organizations thrive.

The bad news: most employees are not engaged, nor are their organizational cultures respectful and inspiring.

Of the ten trends identified in this research, culture and engagement was the number one issue. These leaders rated culture and engagement as a 78 (out of 100 possible points) for importance. They rated their organization’s readiness to address this issue as a 47 out of 100.

The report notes the need for business and HR leaders to understand their organization’s culture and refine every HR and talent program to better engage and empower their people.

Deloitte found that culture, engagement, leadership, and employee development have become urgent priorities. As the global economy improves, the competition for talent has increased. How can companies attract and retain top talent? By creating a safe, respectful, inspiring work culture that values employee contribution and engagement.

How can leaders help their organizations proactively manage a healthy culture? How can leaders close that “readiness” gap and boost the quality of culture and engagement?

The answer is straight-forward: Leaders must make culture and engagement as important as productivity. Culture needs to be measured, monitored and rewarded, just like performance is.

To make culture observable, tangible, and measurable, leaders must set clear values standards. Values must be defined in behavioral (observable) terms. Only then can leaders hold themselves and other leaders accountable for boosting engagement and their organization’s cultural health.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? However, most organizational leaders have never been required to proactively manage their organization’s culture. They don’t have the experience or skills to do so effectively, today.

Managing their organizational culture and boosting employee engagement means that senior leaders have to be consistent role models of their organization’s values. They have to be present daily, observing how teams operate, and observing how managers and employees treat each other. They have to keep informal communications channels open so they can learn about stupid policies (and fix them), about bad leader or employee behavior (and address it), etc.

These skills can be taught. I’ve coached hundreds of leaders on our proven culture refinement process.

One client came to us because of low employee engagement survey scores. They scored 32 out of 100 possible points, the worst of the eight business units owned by their corporate parent. This plant’s senior leadership team embraced our culture process fully and promptly.

They defined values with observable behaviors so everyone – leaders and employees – understood what the rules were for effective daily interactions. They increased performance accountability across their production lines. They measured how well leaders lived the organization’s new valued behaviors. They praised leaders who modeled their values, coached leaders who struggled, and redirected leaders who didn’t model or manage to the new values.

When the next employee engagement survey came around twelve months later, their plant scored 62 out of 100 points! This was the biggest gain in engagement scores than any other business unit in their company system.

Our culture refinement process is proven to boost employee engagement scores. There is no time like the present to boost the quality of your culture and to boost employee engagement.

Contribute your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

An earlier version of this article appeared on Chris’ Driving Results Through Culture site on June 24, 2013.