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Why Is Engagement So Profitable?

There was a time when the fitness of the employee base was virtually invisible, when the only criteria worthy of attention was turning up on time and doing as you were told. 'Mental health' was a condemnation assigned to mad people and 'welfare' was the mark of your ability to eat.

That was where Industry was born, hot off the back of the slave trade, growing fast into sweat shops. You had to give people breaks or they'd keel over from thirst and exhaustion. Things like 'work-life balance' weren't even in the vocabulary and 'engagement' was what happened before you got married.

Human history is, let's face it, a rapid account of several aeons on a planet whose age is quite hard to define - estimates favour "4.5 billion years". We're talking about a fairly short aeon here, then, beginning in the midst of the 1700s and progressing unhindered to the present day. The Industrial Age swept across the world from its origins in the British Isles, and now we are left with the vestiges of a tradition that, like others of its kind, is dying very hard indeed.

This current era represents perhaps something of a bifurcation point in terms of social evolution, for we are called upon to urgently re-examine those vestiges in the vestibules of power; well-worn approaches to personnel management that have survived intact since those days of yore. The British have a fondness for tradition that sometimes proves to be their undoing, and this instance may be no exception - our country ranks sixth-lowest in the world on employee engagement according to Gallup.

Not a statistic to be proud of, one has to admit, with 90% of our workforce disengaged and demoralised (the two go hand in hand). So what's stopping CEOs from brushing off the dust of antiquity and setting out to change things?

One thing is certain - engagement is profitable. That alone should be an irresistible incentive. People coming into work "with a spring in their step", looking forward to the day ahead, will raise productivity and innovation effortlessly without anyone breathing down their necks or sending memos out about what shouldn't be done.

Engagement is profitable because it works on the same premise of physics as watched pots failing to boil. Left to its own devices with a carefully-selected source of energetic input, a system will do its thing to produce generally expected results. Over-monitored and micro-managed, a social system loses efficiency due to two primary factors - observer effect and retroactive interference... undeniable issues rooted in scientific study and evidenced by professional experts. So let's consider what does work, and why.

Healthy learning processes - they work. Giving people opportunities for self-discovery so that they can experience the benefits of advanced self-management (the root of WorldLine's foundation courses) are inevitably going to boost confidence and enable people to see the workplace through fresh, inspired eyes. Familiarity breeds contempt for a very good reason - negativity is the path of least resistance. Positive productivity is a principle waiting to be discovered - once grasped, it's not going to abandon anyone because it works to everyone's advantage and leaves negativity where it belongs.

Autonomous groupage - that works. Bringing people together from all walks of company life to learn about themselves represents a positive turning point for all involved, allowing co-operative processes to fuel a sense of equality and appreciation for each other's roles. That's why WorldLine gathers participants from across the matrix who don't usually work closely together. We break down silos and blame culture with this unique approach to collaborative progress.

Proactive leaders - they work, too! The best results in programmes inevitably come from those involving the CEO (currently I work with one who even joins sessions virtually when he's not in the office)... leaders who are prepared to approach change with a healthy, open-minded optimism are those who most quickly effect positive causes to be adopted by their teams. A proactive leader will help to sustain profitability simply by being aware, maintaining empathy and understanding that uncertainty is inevitable -learning how to deal with it effectively is what everyone needs to do, then everybody gains exponentially.

Evolution isn't rocket science, it's something that happens naturally given the right conditions and an appropriate source of energy. Your company could be evolving into a trailblazer of profitable, ethical self-management that sees its people happily walking in with a smile every morning, loyal to the core and loving every minute of being there with you. Money ranks very low on the scale of incentives - a good place to start, perhaps, in unveiling how valuable self-actualisation could prove to be for you. This Harvard article was written 20 years ago, and cites an article written 40 years before that, but it's still relevant, even if it leaves us to work out the solutions for ourselves. No time like the Present!

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(Visit for more reference points, articles and generally fantastic stuff on engagement and where to find it...:)

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