Our (Engaged) People Are Our Greatest Asset

Using the OpX Workforce Engagement Framework can move the needle on employee engagement as well as productivity and morale.

Engagement Framework Chart

How many times have you heard company leaders proclaim that “our people are our greatest asset”? It’s a frequent refrain that sounds good, but it doesn’t necessarily reflect reality. In fact, when it comes to workforce engagement, our “greatest asset” is under duress and is underperforming as shown in Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report that reveals “only one-third of U.S. employees are engaged in their work and workplace. And only about 1 in 5 say their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.”

While the number of engaged employees is the highest it’s been since Gallup began measuring it in 2000, it still remains low. But from a glass-is-half-full perspective, there is a real opportunity to move the needle in an engagement direction for the employees that said they were not engaged in the report. Thus, the “greatest asset” proclamation can be recast to “our engaged people are our greatest asset!” 

The impetus for moving the engagement needle—the business case—is best described in the Gallup report as follows: “Simply put, engaged employees produce better business outcomes than other employees—across industry, company size and nationality, and in good economic times and bad.” 

It is this very business case that prompted the Workforce Development Solutions Group in PMMI’s OpX Leadership Network to undertake the development of its Workforce Engagement work product in the spring of 2015.

The OpX Workforce Engagement Framework, shown above, is comprised of three pillars (empowerment, enablement, and connection), six attributes (desire, authority, skills, resources, fit, and communication), and 47 characteristics scattered across the pillars and attributes that, taken together, describe a highly engaged manufacturing employee. For each of the characteristics, there is a drill down on a specific real-life situation examining what that situation looks like in a typical manufacturing facility compared to what it would look like in a more highly engaged facility ranging from beginner to advanced environments. Additionally, each drill down is accompanied by leadership guidance on how to improve employee engagement in each situation. Finally, underpinning the model are three foundational elements (prerequisites for workforce engagement) that include leadership, values, and mission/vision/purpose.

The document is unique in a couple of ways:

1. Its “by industry, for industry” perspective on employee engagement has been generated by a diverse group of manufacturing subject matter experts resulting in this bottom-up, in-the-trenches, multi-industry approach to engaging the manufacturing workforce.

2. Its focus is on the “how” of employee engagement rather than the “what.” There is no shortage of resources telling you what to do to improve employee engagement, but few tell you how to do it—that is the sweet spot or white space occupied by this document. It is both a diagnostic and roadmap tool guiding those on the journey to development of a highly engaged workforce.

Invariably, when food and beverage manufacturers implement the OpX Leadership Network’s process-improvement documents, one of the first challenges they face is how to engage their workforce in even the smallest of organizational change initiatives. When introduced to the OpX Workforce Engagement Framework, they quickly see the value in assessing both their foundational readiness for workforce engagement (three foundational elements) and where their employees are on their engagement journey (47 characteristics). From these assessments, food and beverage manufacturers realize that engaged people are their greatest asset and begin using the OpX Workforce Engagement Framework to map out a clear set of next steps to improve the engagement of their employees that can produce the better business outcomes they require. 

To learn more about OpX’s employee engagement work products, visit www.opxleadershipnetwork.org.


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