Article Date: 1/1/2004

staffing solutions
Engage Your Staff
Increasing your staff's positive feelings about work can improve productivity.
By Bob Levoy, O.D.

What are the core elements needed to attract and retain top-notch employees in the current marketplace? What accounts for what the Gallup Organization calls "employee engagement," which in turn is correlated with productivity, profitability, retention and patient satisfaction?

Is your workplace strong?

In their book First Break All the Rules (Simon & Schuster, 1999), Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman discuss research that the Gallup Organization conducted on these topics. The study correlated performance data from more than 2,500 business units and opinion data from more than 105,000 employees. ("The definition of a business unit varied by industry . . .")

After analysis (including a combination of focus groups, factor analysis, regression analysis, concurrent validity studies and follow-up interviews) the authors used the 12 questions in the sidebar to measure what they call the "strength of a workplace." While these questions don't capture everything you'd want to know about a workplace, they do measure the core elements needed to "attract, focus and keep the most talented employees."

What the authors found was that "those employees who responded most positively to the 12 questions also worked in business units that had higher levels of productivity, profit, retention and customer satisfaction. This demonstrated for the first time the link between employee opinion and business unit performance, across many different companies."

Money counts -- somewhat

You may be wondering why none of the questions deal with pay, benefits or advancement. The authors reported that they included such questions initially but "they disappeared" during the analysis. This doesn't mean they're unimportant; it simply means that they're equally important to every employee, good, bad or mediocre.

"Yes, if you are paying 20% below the market average, you may have difficulty attracting people. But bringing your pay and benefit package up to market levels, while a sensible first step, will not take you very far. These kinds of issues are like tickets to the ballpark -- they can get you into the game, but they can't help you win."

Action step: By guessing how your employees would answer the questions at left (or, if you have the courage, actually learning first-hand) you can evaluate the motivational climate in your practice. Then you can identify what, if anything, you need to do to improve it, and along with it your staff productivity and retention.


How Do They Feel About Work?

How would your employees answer these questions on a 1-5 scale, where "1" indicates strongly disagree and "5" strongly agree?

1 Do I know what my boss expects of me?

2 Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work correctly?

3 Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

4 In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?

5 Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?

6 Does someone encourage my development?

7 At work, do my opinions seem to count?

8 Does the mission or purpose of my company make me feel that my work is important?

9 Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?

10 Do I have a best friend at work?

11 In the last six months, have I talked with someone about my progress?

12 Have I had opportunities to learn and grow?





Optometric Management, Issue: January 2004