Raising Employee Commitment – The Business Case & Practical Actions for improving the engagement of your people




Watching this Base-Jumper launch himself off a rock high above the Lauterbrunnen valley in Switzerland I thought about the total commitment he showed (as well as his total trust in his parachute, other equipment and personal skill). Clearly the expectation of personal enjoyment he gained from each jump more than offset concerns for the risks and the opportunity costs involved. A very personal “balance sheet” of costs and benefits! I then related this to the world of work and reflected upon the value enterprises would gain if they could increase the commitment of their people – by even a small fraction of the commitment shown by the Base-Jumper. I sensed that developing and articulating a very personal “balance sheet” – anchored in an individual’s expectations and the assessment of the enterprise they work in – would create a foundation for achieving this. 

Why focus on improving employee commitment (and engagement)?

The following hypothetical examples provide a sense of the value that can be gained from increasing commitment / engagement / discretionary effort:

  • —  Raising the productivity of a Manager’s with a salary of £40k by 3% = £1.2k
  • —  Raising the productivity of a team with a total salary cost of £200k by 3% = £6K
  • —  Generating 5% more discretionary effort = £10K
  • —  Manager recruitment cost 25% x 40k = £10k
  • —  Manager % effectiveness in Year 1 = 70% (-£12K)

If Manager’s average length of service can be increased by 1 Year (say 20%) i.e. from 4 to 5 years, Manager productivity improves by 12K and recruitment costs fall by 2.4K  = +£15K!

 Whilst the numbers above are arbitrary, my point is that there are real bottom line benefits to be gained from improved employee commitment in terms of both greater discretionary contribution and longer service to the enterprise.

How can employee engagement be increased?

Firstly, a quick win …… walk about and talk to your people, show interest in them and thank them for particular contributions they are making.  Quoting Tom Peters “there is no greater gift to the person or persons whom you are engaged than a heartfelt (as well as headfelt) acknowledgement of their contribution and fundamental human worth”.

Secondly, recognise diversity – Different People have different circumstances, needs & motivators. Actions that are “tuned” to individuals will therefore be the most effective in raising commitment and employee engagement. We should expect that for some people, your enterprise will be the most important thing in their life – for others it will but one of a portfolio of interests. I believe that it is helpful to think about your people in a number of different “dimensions” as you consider potential “interventions” to improve commitment and engagement.  As an aid to better understanding your people you may like to consider where you assess they are on the following five dimensions:

Length of Service

Raising Employee Engagement_LoS As a gymnastics coach in my youth a frequently challenge was to help performers rise above “plateaus”. This was a mix of raising their technical skills and giving them the confidence to raise their performance to the next level. For example adjusting a gymnasts technique so that they achieved more height in a backwards somersault as a prelude to introducing a twist into the somersault (which would generate the performer more points for difficulty and risk) and taking the performer through a sequence of development steps to give them the confidence to “go for it”.  A skill was identifying those with the potential to rise above the current performance level and then form a programme of actions to exploit the potential.Applying this to the talent in your enterprise – who do you have that is operating at a plateau but has the potential to contribute more? Should you consider them for a move to a new role, for training course to raise their skills or involve them in a special project for example?

Personal Ambition

 Raising Employee Engagement Ambition Taking this thinking a stage further, consider the level of ambition that each employee displays. Then ask whether the individual`s level of ambition is realistic and if so whether it is being adequately “fuelled” by you and your colleagues.  Do you have any individuals in segment A that have particular development needs to raise their current level of performance or perhaps coaching to better align their ambition and performance?

Future Potential

Raising Employee Engagement Potential How much potential does each of your staff have? It can be helpful to think of future potential as a combination of Ambition and a personal engine to propel the individual along the journey towards the ambition’s destination. Is there a mismatch between current performance and future potential? If there is, how can you help the individual to close the gap? Are the people in Segment A gaining sufficient personal satisfaction to be fully committed to your enterprise?

Value to the Enterprise

Raising Employee Engagement Value Plot a cross section of your people onto this graph. Do you have people in Quadrant A that need a performance improvement plan?

Individual Satisfaction

Raising Employee Engagement Satisfaction Do you have people who are contributing great value to your organisation that are not gaining individual satisfaction from their work? Those who are in the area shown as Box A in the graph are at particular risk of moving to new employment since they “feel” the benefit of some satisfaction. You might like to consider special projects or other responsibilities for people in this category to raise their level of satisfaction. It would also be prudent to consider succession plans in particular for people in this group and those in category C. Finally, consider what impact people in category B are having on the rest of your employees and seriously consider whether they have a future in your enterprise.

Armed with the insights on your people that you have gained, a dialogue with each of them to agree personal commitments to the enterprise and enterprise commitments to the individual can provide a launch pad for improved commitment and performance and move people up the commitment ladder – even if not to the level shown by the Base Jumper!


Efficienarta would be delighted to work with you to develop these commitments with your people so that both the personal and the enterprise “Talent Balance Sheets” strengthen – in alignment.


Huw Morris



Comments are closed.