Dollars and Sense: Engaging employees through information

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 10, 2007

As a leader or owner of a business, how alarmed would you be to discover that up to 75 percent of your staff was disengaged from your business? In numerous studies done over the past five years, this is exactly what many managers are finding. Disengagement is defined as, &8220;an employee who is free of any feeling of attachment or obligation to his/her employer.&8221;

Disengaged employees are unproductive and add no value. In extreme cases, their sour attitudes and feelings of resentment lead them to steal from the business, cause customer service problems, and even wreck computer networks.

To battle disengagement, start by keeping employees informed on what&8217;s going on in the business.

Believe it or not, the vast majority of employees really do want to know how the business is doing. They want to know about sales and profit margins, expenses, customer complaints, quality and safety performance and other measures that let them know how the business is fairing.

Sadly, too many managers and business owners miss this important opportunity. Financial and other metrics help employees link their own efforts to the big picture, thus keeping them more engaged. Keeping information &8220;hidden&8221; is frankly ridiculous. Knowledge shared turns in to power multiplied.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel chain is renowned for its world class customer service. One of its keys is a simple meeting that is held daily with every employee as their shift begins.

Employees receive vital information; hotel occupancy rates, a list of VIP guests and their preferences, conference and meeting information.

These meetings keep the hundreds of employees at every hotel aware of the hotel&8217;s financial performance and helps them to understand how they can and will personally impact customer satisfaction that day.

Management guru Peter Drucker once said that everyone in an organization should be able to answer two questions,&8221;What is our business and how is our business?&8221;

Sharing knowledge about the business is a fundamental activity that every manager and business owner should be practicing.

Take Drucker&8217;s advice and constantly communicate the what&8217;s and how&8217;s of your business to your employees. It is one sure fire way to keep employees focused and engaged.

Kevin McKenzie is a partner in The Moser Group. He can be reached via e-mail at