It’s been a long standing view that implementing ‘Systems’ will be the key to increasing overall organisational excellence. Organizational excellence is defined as the ongoing efforts to establish an internal framework of standards and processes intended to engage and motivate employees to deliver products and services that fulfil customer requirements within business expectations ( It is now well established that engaging your staff is the key to making systems and processes work effectively, not the other way round (Markos & Sridevi, 2010). Moreover, engage your staff and you not only get operational excellence, you get a productive and engaging work culture where leadership and operations thrive. Whether it’s production, clinical healthcare, customer services, aviation, construction, transportation or any other industry, the findings are relevant and consistent. Employee engagement matters most.

But building engagement is not as obvious as it may sound. The answer is not adding gaming to the office lounge or having casual Fridays. It is much more foundational to every person’s psyche than the superficial fixes often deployed. Engagement itself has been shown to be poor globally, primarily due to the lack of understanding on what it is and how to increase it. Engagement is when your employees are full of vigour, dedication and immersed in their tasks.

Globally only about 15% of the workforce is engaged, with 18% being actively disengaged and 67% just not engaged. The actively disengaged are disgruntled employees, the sabotagers, they actively steal from the organisation, are knowingly negligent or spend most of their time purposely sabotaging processes. The not engaged are simply there at work. They are aren’t actively sinking the ship, but they aren’t rowing either. They’re just there for the ride, to clock in and clock out. This equates to an estimated US$67 Trillion loss in productivity to the global economy. The NZ/Australia figures sit just below the global figures in engagement, with 14% engaged, 15% actively disengaged and a whopping 71% in the middle, just not engaged. Losing the economy roughly NZ$2.7 Billion in lost productivity.

What makes matters worse is that globally, across industries and countries, engagement has been pretty much stagnant since engagement measures started in the 2000s. Not decreasing overall, but definitely not increasing either. This is primarily because organisations continue to simply measure engagement annually, don’t understand what they measured fully, how to fix it or what interventions exist or how to implement them. So they spread the stats to top management, have a meeting, put it in a file, do not much else about it and measure it again the next year!

The primary driver to enhance engagement lies not in the organisation systems, or tearoom fun activities, but in each employee’s psychological capital (PsyCap). PsyCap is the internal ‘positivity’ you build into your personnel to enhance the will to chase goals. Building PsyCap has been scientifically shown to make us smarter. Our peripheral vision literally expands, we can take in more information from our surroundings in lesser time. Our brain has more information to work with so processes information faster. We have more info and retrieved it faster, so we problem solve faster. This all feeds back on itself so we get smarter, faster. The more we can do this and for longer, the more permanent it becomes. Think going to the gym now and then versus going consistently every week. The changes and results become permanent. Doctors have been shown to reach differential diagnosis faster and more accurately. Production staff have been shown to produce fewer defective products with less risk and health and safety issues in the workplace. Service focussed employees have been shown to retain customers and increase customer satisfaction. The same tide (PsyCap) raises all ships (all industries have been shown to reap the benefits globally).

When employees with PsyCap interventions, positivity interventions, were measured against employees with no interventions within the same organisation, significant KPI differences were found. Those with positivity intervention showed 37% less absenteeism, 65% less turnover in high turnover orgs, 28% less org. shrinkage, 48% less safety incidents, 41% less patient incidents, 41% less quality defects, 10% increase in customer satisfaction, and a 22% increase in productivity enhanced profitability. Build positivity, engage in work, increase productivity, increase profitability.

Organisational resilience relies on 9 key factors in order to have robust resilience, material resources, planning, information mgt, redundant pathways, governance, leadership, culture, social collaboration and human capital. Of these 9, 4 (nearly half your organisational resilience) rely entirely on the positivity of your employees to be successful. Positive employees need positive leadership, which together establishes a positive culture, which enhances social collaboration, which reinforces your human capital overall. This positivity builds and enhances engagement, which in turn then effectively enhances your other 5 resilience components in efficiency, resources, planning, information mgt, redundant identification and overall governance,

But it’s not all about work either! People who have positivity interventions have greater mental resilience, in life, significant well-being overall and generally have a better quality of life after and are more likely to be promoted, have successful marriages, increase immune function and general health, have better brain functionality and basically excel in all aspects of life. And it lasts long term with far reaching benefits. Because when we are happy, those around us are more likely to be happy, work colleagues, friends, family. It makes good business sense to invest in positivity. It makes good life sense to invest in positivity.

If you are interested in this article, can you help?

The author, Ranjeeta Singh, Positive Coach & COER Researcher, is looking for participant organisations that would like to be involved in her exciting research project on Employee Positivity. If interested please contact Ranjeeta Minimal time commitment, full ethics, legal and confidentiality conformance is part of the study and, the big plus is that you will receive a measure of Employee Positivity for your organisation (and a comparison against other participants) and access to the research findings on how to improve it.

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