Like many companies, ours will mark the New Year through the annual performance review process, the yearly opportunity for employees and managers to consider where they’ve been, where they are and where they, and thus the company, are going. I don’t have to tell you it can be a difficult process, but it’s usually beneficial.
For me, performance reviews are a great time to think about growth, conceptualize plans and realize what assets we can leverage and what assets we might need to acquire to take the next step.
As business leaders, we do a lot of talking in the abstract about human capital: how to develop it, how to measure it, how to increase its productivity. Critics might consider the term somewhat dehumanizing, but the successful CLO never loses sight of the real people behind the catchall concept.
All this was on my mind recently while reading through “The 2004 National Study on Workforce Engagement,” from the Performance Assessment Network (pan). The study of nearly 2,600 workers didn’t focus directly on learning and development practices, but it certainly showed why you do what you do and the importance of the people at all levels in all organizations.
According to the report, the critical areas to engage a workforce are, in order: daily satisfaction; ethics, diversity and safety; reputation management; and effective senior leadership. Secondary drivers are: opportunities for advancement; tools and technology; work-life balance; and organizational orientation.
Education isn’t on that list, but it’s between every line of the study, which showed less than half (46 percent) of employees can be labeled fully engaged and another 31 percent unengaged. Assuming that this percentage held true for your human capital, think about what you’re accomplishing now, then dream about what 31 percent more involvement could bring.
That, of course, is where the chief learning officer can help. Education isn’t a magic bullet that automatically fixes all the ills of the human condition, but the link between learning and retention has been well documented. The pan study even defined engagement as “an ongoing process to recruit, retrain, reward and retain productive and effective employees.”
- The good: 83 percent of respondents are proud to work for their enterprise. You can’t buy that level of loyalty, but it’s certainly a solid foundation on which to build.
- The bad: Four in 10 employees do not enjoy coming to work. Hey, there are days I’d rather be on the golf course, but success grows from commitment. Linking learning to advancement as much as possible certainly helps create that culture.
- The ugly: Only 63 percent of employees believe their organization is highly ethical, and only 50 percent believe senior leaders are people of high personal integrity. Human nature being what it is, there are certainly limits to how low any CLO can reduce those numbers. But if it’s not already happening, getting senior leadership involved in development programs and corporate universities is a good way to build employee engagement and model beneficial behavior.
No doubt you’ve been closely watching the performance review processes in your own organizations, and as these numbers show, you’ve seen the strides made and the journey ahead.
A happy and healthy New Year to all!
Editor in Chief