Cultivating Purpose, Pride, Passion, and Personal Fit

New Report Examines How Highly Engaging Leaders Are Made by -- and Make -- Great Organizations

Mar 15, 2016, 10:00 ET from The Conference Board

NEW YORK, March 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Before the concept was introduced in 1990, employee engagement was a basic element of success that went unmeasured and unmanaged. In the generation since, researchers and practitioners have mapped the drivers, components, and implications of engagement in ever-finer detail. DNA of Engagement: How Organizations Build and Sustain Highly Engaging Leaders represents the next milestone in this global effort.       

Research has shown that companies with highly engaged workforces experience better business outcomes than their competitors. Yet we still lack a systematic understanding of how cultures conducive to high engagement are actually built and sustained.  A report published today finally closes that gap. DNA of Engagement: How Organizations Create and Sustain Highly Engaging Cultures analyzes how some of the world's most engaged organizations actually get their cultures right, as told by the executives leading their efforts. 

The study was conducted by The Engagement Institute™ (TEI), launched in October 2013 by The Conference Board, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Sirota as a research community of practice comprising over 100 organizations. The work was led by Research Fellows, a small group of executives from TEI member companies who confronted all facets of the engagement challenge over a deeply immersive year-long project. The experience offered a team of proven leaders a singular opportunity to learn from each other, analyze key engagement exemplars, and synthesize answers specific to their organizations' needs. Produced alongside senior researchers from Deloitte, Sirota, and The Conference Board, DNA of Engagement marks the culmination of the Research Fellows' first year.  

The team drew on six major published rankings of highly engaged organizations to identify research subjects which have received wide and longstanding recognition for employee engagement. A comprehensive survey with follow-up interviews was then administered to a dozen of these top performers—a cross-section ranging from publicly traded and privately held industry leaders to government agencies and NGOs. Executives from ten of the twelve surveyed organizations also worked with researchers to detail their engagement practices in extensive profiles included in the final report. 

"DNA of Engagement marks a major maturation in the conversation around employee engagement," said report co-author Rebecca Ray, Ph.D, Executive Vice President and Human Capital Practice Leader at The Conference Board. "While important, it is really not about the score and whether there was improvement over the last survey.  It is about why we are doing this in the first place; it's about driving engagement because it drives results. And it's the culture that makes that even possible. We sought to find out how highly engaged organizations build their cultures, what they have in common, and whether or not others can emulate their success. We learned that there are, indeed, common elements that bind highly engaging cultures: They reflect a shared adherence to  practices, policies, and structures which smart leaders can incorporate into the 'DNA' of their own organizations  as the value of an engaged workforce rises."  

Researchers identified over twenty traits intimately linked to building a highly engaging culture in virtually all of the surveyed organizations. Eight core elements, however, emerged as fundamental building blocks:

1.      Alignment of business strategy and engagement strategy

2.      An organizational philosophy that emphasizes a core purpose

3.      Formal programs and policies that drive the engagement agenda

4.      Open, proactive, leader-driven communication about engagement

5.      A workplace (physical and virtual) and organizational structure that promotes collaboration and inclusion

6.      A regular cadence for assessment and follow-up

7.      Leaders who are expected and empowered to build engagement

8.      Demonstration of the business impact of engagement

DNA of Engagement reveals in detail the general applicability of these principles as well as their unique expression in the highly engaged organizations studied.  Also included in the report is a diagnostic tool, using these core elements, for determining where an organization is on its journey to becoming "highly engaged." The ten organizations extensively profiled are: Alcoa, Deloitte, Development Dimensions International (DDI), NASA, Quicken Loans, Southern New Hampshire University, Teach for America, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Whole Foods Market, and 

For complete details:

Report:   DNA of Engagement: How Organizations Create and Sustain Highly Engaging Cultures

(Research Report R-15xx-14-RR)
By Rebecca Ray, Patrick Hyland, David Dye, Joseph Kaplan, Adam Pressman, and the 2014 Research Fellows of The Engagement Institute™

About the Conference Board

The Conference Board is a global, independent business membership and research association working in the public interest. Our mission is unique: To provide the world's leading organizations with the practical knowledge they need to improve their performance and better serve society. The Conference Board is a non-advocacy, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.


SOURCE The Conference Board