Monthly Archives: December 2014

Social Disengagement-the Four Enablers as Antidote?

Numerous independent studies concur that higher levels of engagement have significant impacts on not only an organization’s bottom line, but on individuals’ overall wellbeing. The UK’s Engage for Success movement promotes a deeper understanding and application of engagement as presented in the MacLeod Report.  The e4s model is based on Four Enablers that promote higher levels of employee engagement in the workplace. These enablers are excerpted below if for some reason you don’t want to access and review the full report linked above. Highly recommended: go to the source for this! Also, look around at the other resources here—the well-being report is killer—including a toolbox of application tips and tricks for each of the four enablers.

No need to dwell on it, but just for context: the US, for that matter the world, is fighting through some pretty ugly social issues. To me, one of the foundational causes of a good deal of these issues is social disengagement. Proposed: engagement theory does not stop in the workplace; the Four Enablers can also be leveraged to promote higher levels of social engagement.

EXCERPTS: the Four Enablers
I’ve taken some editorial liberty with the following, replacing work-related words with social. Therefore, “employees” are citizens, “work” is community etc. Please go to the source, the MacLeod Report, for the original thoughts.

LEADERSHIP provides a strong strategic narrative which has widespread ownership and commitment from community leaders at all levels and citizens. The narrative is a clearly expressed story about what the purpose of the community is (or of the organization), why it has the broad vision it has, and how an individual citizen contributes to that purpose. Citizens have a clear line of sight between their community role and the narrative, and understand where their actions fit in…A strong narrative that provides a clear, shared vision for the community or organisation is at the heart of social engagement. Citizens need to understand not only the purpose of the community in which they live but also how their individual actions contribute to that purpose.

ENGAGING LEADERS and OFFICIALS are at the heart of this social culture– they facilitate and empower rather than control or restrict their constituency; they treat the citizenry with appreciation and respect and show commitment to developing and increasing opportunities, and rewarding the involvement and efforts of those they represent…Firstly, engaging leaders and officials offer clarity for what is expected from individual members of the community, which involves some stretch, and much appreciation and feedback/coaching and training. The second key area is treating their constituency as individuals, with fairness and respect and with a concern for each citizen’s well-being. Thirdly, leaders and officials have a very important role in ensuring that community systems, services and opportunities for citizens to interact with them are designed efficiently and effectively.

An effective and empowered citizen VOICE – citizens’ views are sought out; they are listened to and they see that their opinions count and make a difference. Individuals speak out and challenge when appropriate. A strong sense of listening and of responsiveness permeates the community, enabled by effective communication…The ‘Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work for’ found that feeling listened to was the most important factor in determining how much respondents valued their organization, and the same holds true for communities and social groups. Being heard reinforces a sense of belonging and a belief that ones actions can have an impact.

INTEGRITY Behaviour throughout the community is consistent with stated values, leading to trust and a sense of integrity…Most communities have espoused values and all societies have behavioural norms. Where there is a gap between the two, the size of the gap is reflected in the degree of distrust within the community; if the gap is closed, high levels of trust usually result. If a citizen sees the stated values of a community or government being lived by leadership and peers, a sense of trust in the community and the government is more likely to be developed, and this constitutes a powerful enabler of social engagement.

What do you think? How do the Four Enablers come to life as real, actionable things that will enhance social engagement? Please reply by identifying an Enabler, and your thoughts on an actionable to-do. Just to salt the mine…

What is the level of interest and involvement of citizens if word was to leak out that an elected official was hosting a series of input-gathering brainstorming meetings open to the public? (YAWN) The town hall meeting is certainly nothing new. But accountability to act, with follow up and real results…now that is extremely rare to find!

What if the commitment was stated and then kept, that attendees would not only share their thoughts, but that the top-tier “keeper” items as clarified, refined and prioritized by the group would be published, assigned ownership, and results or status communicated by a certain date?

In Closing, Virtuous Circle(s)

Reference the e4s well-being and engagement report. Also, see Influence and the Greater Good.

Higher engagement triggers greater levels of contribution which, in turn, triggers even higher levels of engagement. And, the higher a person’s sense of well-being, the more productive and engaged they are. Contribution level also impacts a person’s well-being: if I’m delivering on my accountabilities I feel good about it. Last, work engagement drives individual engagement and reverse holds true too—individual engagement drives organizational engagement.

Add social engagement into the mix: the interrelationships are undeniable. Improve one, improve the others. Social well-being, cultural health, and economic sustainability are the prizes. Oh, almost forgot the WIIFM… this well-being / engagement interrelationship also means that people tend to live a lot longer, and are happier too.

That makes this at least worth thinking about, doesn’t it?


The New Wellbeing-a Trifecta WIN

I have been an employee engagement addict since my first experimentation in 1996 with Gallup’s Q-12 process. I am currently a “guru” in the UK’s Engage for Success movement, not noted as a resume feather but because e4s is an essential connector to experts and thinkers in this area that helps keep me up-to-date.

This past summer, a hospital CEO friend introduced me to Blue Zones (see below) and the new, proactive direction of health care management for providers. At the same time, e4s published a report that establishes an undeniable connection between well-being and engagement. Last, I discovered that my home state of Iowa has embarked on a Healthiest State Initiative,  which uses the Gallup-Healthways report noted below

It was exciting that my old friend Gallup is moving in parallel with my evolving personal interests! But what sealed the deal for me was that several key indicators of well-being are also among the critical drivers of high-engagement. Result of this Summer of Discovery… I am hopelessly caught up in this new collaborative initiative where well-being and engagement join forces.

I do hope you’ll check the links. Well-being is way more than just a slogan or an occasional CSR event that generates another t-shirt (I have a closet full). Well-being is a trifecta win and deserves to be front and center.

WIN for Me
Personally embracing well-being helps you live a longer, healthier, happier life. But the parameters of “well-being” have grown. It’s no longer just about bean sprouts and exercise. Well-being is also impacted by spiritual things: sense of community or belonging, being part of something greater than “me” or having a purpose or calling, living within a strong values base, personally and professionally.

I pay marginal attention to exercise and diet, I’m far from an exercise nut. Way far from. But those spiritual elements are dead-center in the middle of the world of engagement, therefore wildly important to me. And that “live long and prosper” thing is pretty tantalizing too.

WIN for Organizations
Healthier people are more productive and not just because they are at work rather than home sick. The cost of poor health for business is huge, and the social price tag is equally staggering. Even Harvard economics guru Michael Porter weighed in on this, in the context of shared value:  “There are numerous ways in which addressing societal concerns can yield productivity benefits to a firm. Consider, for example, what happens when a firm invests in a wellness program. Society benefits because employee and their families become healthier, and the firm minimizes employee absences and lost productivity.”

Springing from Porter’s shared value, Triple Pundit’s core philosophy is that the economy, environment and society are inseparably related, and an understanding of all three is critical to long term profitability.

Is it just me, or is promoting well-being a high-impact sustainability strategy?

WIN for Community
People and employers co-exist in the community. When citizens are generally physically and spiritually healthy, the community overall is a vibrant one. When a community’s citizens are spiritually and physically healthy, social issues—crime, drug use, abuse, truancy and dropout rates—all improve.

Citizens are also employees. A healthy citizenry and robust surrounding community means local organizations have a deep, well-stocked talent pool in their back yard. Recruiting and retention are both a breeze—people want to relocate to the community, and they want to stay. In other words, the entire region’s economic development status gets a major boost.

I have this urge to build one of those three-circled diagrams with the sweet spot in the middle. That sweet spot is the Trifecta WIN. The really important thing: the relationship is a reinforcing loop / virtuous circle. Each one of the three impacts the other two. So, how to kick things into motion?

Billion-dollar Questions
1. Which stakeholder stands to gain the most from well-being? Answer: ALL THREE.
2. Which of the three stakeholders is in the best position to have a major impact on well-being? Answer: while it starts with “me” the most influential institutional force in our adult lives that can trigger broad benefits is the employer.
So, what’s the holdup?

(a little more information…)

Blue Zones
In 2004, author / traveler Dan Buettner drew a really tough assignment from National Geographic: identify pockets around the world where people lived longer. He found several areas where people reached age 100 ten times more often than in the United States. Scientists then went to each location to study what could explain the difference in longevity and found that all these pockets had nine common lifestyle characteristics.

The real kicker for me is that these life-prolonging characteristics include both physical and spiritual elements. Purpose, values, connecting, social networks, family and sense of community all lead to a better, longer life. Still, most of the well-being community continues to lock in on the physical aspects only. Is it because that spiritual stuff is a little weirder therefore harder for people to embrace?

The Gallup-Healthways Report  (link to recent reports)
Healthways and Gallup conduct an annual analysis of well-being across the United States. In true Gallup bigger-is-better fashion, more than 178,000 interviews were conducted on physical and emotional health, healthy behaviors, work environment, social and community factors, financial security, and access to necessities such as food, shelter and healthcare. And it is ongoing: “Gallup conducts 500 telephone interviews a day with Americans to gather their perceptions of well-being, for a resulting sample that represents an estimated 95 percent of all U.S. households.”

From the introduction pages of the 2013 Gallup / Healthways report: “…individually, high well-being means a life well-lived—all the things that are important to each of us, what we think about, and how we experience our lives. In the aggregate, high well-being means healthier populations, more productive and profitable businesses, and more economically vibrant communities….Where a culture of well-being takes hold, positive health, cost, and productivity outcomes follow…. Simply stated, people with higher well-being cost less and perform better.”

“Well-being is about the interaction between physical health, finding your daily work and experiences fulfilling, having strong social relationships and access to the resources you need, feeling financially secure, and being a part of a true community.” (Tom Rath, Gallup / Healthways Report intro)