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It’s that time of year again when millions of people around the world pledge to do all kinds of positive things over the next 12 months, such as eat more kale and grapefruit, do yoga 2 hours a day, spend more time with family, reduce their carbon footprint, focus more on experiences and less on stuff, and so son. Hey, we all need something positive to look forward to, because there is nothing holly or jolly about the mall parking lot experience during the holidays. NOTHING.

engagement resolutions for 2017

However, individuals aren’t the only ones making New Year’s Resolutions. Enterprises intent on a making the year ahead successful are also analyzing and identifying priorities. And while there are plenty of objectives vying for a coveted spot in the strategic plan, among the most important—if not THE most critical—is improving employee engagement.

To that end, here are 3 employee engagement resolutions for the year ahead:

  1. Resolve that Employee Engagement is a Proactive and Strategic Investment

To a greater or lesser extent, enterprises have known for decades (if not centuries) that employee engagement is important. But the longstanding perception has been—and in many cases, continues to be—that employee engagement is a by-product. In other words, it’s something that enterprises only enjoy if and when other objectives are achieved, such as meeting sales targets, expansion goals, customer satisfaction levels, and so on.

However, the reality is quite different: employee engagement is an asset that enables and empowers these other goals. That is, strong employee engagement must lead the way, and create the context and culture through these other achievements happen.

The most convincing evidence of this was revealed by a Gallup poll, which found that enterprises with good employee engagement experienced a significant increase in employee performance and productivity during recessions—which ultimately helped them emerge faster and stronger than competitors with poor employee engagement.

Had these enterprises approached employee engagement as a by-product, they would have undermined their own success. Instead, they wisely viewed employee engagement as a proactive and strategic investment, and put themselves into a position to reap rewards that not only enabled success, but may have ensured organizational survival.

  1. Resolve that Employee Engagement is Linked to Work Experience

Many enterprises have made significant investments over the years to improve employee engagement—only to see their resources and efforts fizzle out, or even backfire by creating expectations that could not be fulfilled (yes, enterprises with floor-to-floor slides, basketball courts, and glorious 5-star conference rooms: we’re looking at you).

However, many of these well-intentioned investments were doomed from the start, because they neglected to target the crucial first piece of the employee engagement puzzle: it starts with work experience.

The average employee spends 47 hours a week at work—and many routinely surpass 50 and even 60 hours. Slides and basketball courts are fun, but if the work experience itself is tedious and frustrating, then employee engagement isn’t just difficult. It’s impossible.

No, this doesn’t mean that work has to become so individualized that each employee has their own unique workflow. It’s a workplace after all; not a concierge service (though I know of a few companies that offer this as well!). However, it does mean that employees should be empowered with collaboration and project management tools that flex around their personal preferences and changing information management needs.

This kind of investment, which employees experience and appreciate every day, establishes the foundation and sets the framework for a wide range of positive results at the individual, team and enterprise levels. Simply put, everyone wins.

  1. Resolve to Start Improving Employee Engagement NOW

According to a study by the University of Scranton, just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions. That’s not just uninspiring: it’s downright depressing!

But the good news is that people who jump on their resolutions and take action vs. procrastinate (and procrastinate…and procrastinate…) dramatically improve their chances of achieving their objectives. At the same time, putting things off isn’t going to make the challenge ahead any easier; on the contrary, it will become more complex. As I tell my kids when they avoid doing something important and urgent: “eat the frog now, because it gets uglier and uglier the longer you have to look at it!”

The lesson for enterprises is easy to grasp: take advantage of this opportunity to move the needle on employee engagement NOW. Don’t put it off or (as noted above) assume that employee engagement will somehow happen on its own when other objectives fall into place. Employee engagement doesn’t ride the success bus: it drives the success bus.

As for where you should start your journey of however many steps, here are some practical suggestions that will point you in the right direction:

  • Grasp the consequences of disengaged employees with our new Infographic – click here
  • Determine if your employees are merely conversing or effectively collaborating – click here
  • Discover 4 ways to improve employee engagement – click here
  • See if your enterprises is positioned to thrive in the Employee Engagement Era – click here
  • Download a complimentary copy of “The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Collaborative Work Management” – click here

The Last Word

Strong employee engagement is no longer—and frankly, has never been—a nice-to-have option. It is an essential enterprise asset that impacts the bottom-line; positively when it’s abundant, and negatively when it’s absent.

By resolving to accept and activate that employee engagement is a proactive and strategic investment, linked to work experience, and something that your enterprise leadership will take ownership of NOW vs. later, you can ensure that the year ahead will be highly rewarding and successful. In fact, it may be your best ever!

Anne Catambay
Anne Catambay, VP Global Marketing