Gallup Study: Engaged Employees Improve the Bottom Line

The latest developments in the ongoing debate over employee motivation and Theory X and Theory Y: has an interview with James Harter and Frank Schmidt, two researchers studying the link between a company’s financial performance and the extent to which employees feel engaged and cared for.  They were trying to understand the direction of causality in this “chicken or egg” situation:  does satisfaction drive profitability or does profitability drive satisfaction.  They believe their research shows that it is the former.  Harter explains what their data show:

When people perceive that they’re cared about at work, they’re more likely to show up, and they’re more likely to do things that benefit the organization in the longer term. And if people feel that someone at work encourages their development, they’re more likely to pay attention to customers. The data suggest that if employees feel that someone’s looking out for their best interest, they then reciprocate and look out for the best interest of the organization. . . .

These are all things that great managers do, but they are often overlooked in average organizations because managers think that their job is to tell people what to do. But that’s really only a small part of the role of a manager. Great managers give employees direction, of course, but they also understand where their employees are at right now and how they can help them become great in their current role — and they help them see where they can be in the future.

For another, broader perspective on the manager/worker role in the modern economy, check out this panel discussion sponsored by the Guardian here.