21 Jan 2021
Gilles Verrier held HR responsibilities in renowned organizations such as Philips, Elf and Unilever, before becoming HR Director of the Decathlon Group. He founded and manages today Identité RH, a consulting firm in human resources, organization and management. He is also an associate professor at the University of Paris-Dauphine, after having been an associate professor at Sciences Po for ten years. His latest book, published last June, deals with “Les RH en 2030” (HR in 2030).
Alert on the commitment of your employees!
Over the last few years, many managers have become aware that the level of commitment of their employees is a major challenge for their business. Indeed, as our economies have become more and more service-oriented, knowledgeable workers, who manage information and relationships, have become the vast majority. Yet their commitment has a much stronger impact on performance than that of those who serve the machine. Numerous studies, notably in the United States, have demonstrated this reinforced causal link between engagement and performance.
The benchmark employers, those with a percentage of employees declaring themselves to be engaged at a level of more than 90%, have one thing in common: they have worked with two types of engagement at the same time. Firstly, emotional commitment, referring to elements of meaning that reinforce the sense of belonging (company mission, shared project, pride in the profession, etc.). Then there is rational commitment, based on employees’ perception of the balance between the contribution they make and what the company actually puts on the table (responsibility entrusted, quality of management practices, skills development, compensation, development opportunities). These two commitments prove to be multiplicative.
In both these areas, it is time for companies to realize the seriousness of the situation today. The pandemic along with what employees have experienced and felt in recent months, has consequences that we cannot yet fully measure.
In terms of emotional commitment, many organizations have left the field: shifting the priority onto crisis management instead of communication and achievements. On the other hand, this period was conducive to individuals questioning the purpose of their work, role in society and way of life. The vice is tightening.
Moreover, the time has come for companies to be more vigilant about their costs, not to invest in sources of rational commitment. Meanwhile, in light of the goings-on in recent months, employees are starting to reassess their contributions and therefore their expectations. All the ingredients are there for a drop in engagement and increasing distance from the corporate identity.
Of course, given the uncertainty of the future and outlook of the job market, this will likely not lead to a surge in staff turnover or absenteeism. It would, however, result in employees being less engages, which can negatively impact their performance.
Companies aware of this risk can remedy it. Establishing dialogues and engaging in active listening with employees, will help them know where they stand. This approach existed, though informally, in the “old world,” becoming rarer in lieu of modern working conditions. It is now only a matter of being proactive: reviving this tactic and training managers to apply it.
On top of this “micro” approach, it must be added, that formalizing the engagement model should be a structured, based on the employee value proposition we have constructed to best serve our business. In other words, where do we need to work in HR to ensure a return on investment in business development? Conducting such a project today is not a luxury: by re-launching engagement, the company will be able to find its way around. To take just one example, such a project carried out with Auchan Italy has increased the level of employee commitment from 40% to 72% in six months, and has generated an additional 3.5% growth in the company’s revenues over that same period.