175212158Rewarded with an inspirational trip, the highest performers at a technology company explored monasteries and meditated in Bhutan, the country that replaced the GDP with the Gross National Happiness (GNH) as its economic indicator to measure progress. Balancing non-material with material, the GNH is based on the foundation of happiness, which the Bhutanese say is necessary for sustainable economic growth.

Of course every company cannot take its employees on a spirit-restoring retreat to Bhutan; however, the principles practiced by this small country can be executed for success throughout any organization.

Engagement is not Synonymous with an Indulgent Environment

Engaged employees are more likely to maintain a strong work performance because they have an emotional connection to their organization. But engagement is not necessarily the result of the indulgent environment that offers off-the-wall perks like free gourmet meals, on-site spa treatments or rooftop mini golf.

Disengaged, Disconnected and Disruptive

A recent international Gallup study of about 180 million employees across several industries, shows pampering your employees does not necessarily create engaged workers who are productive or loyal. A staggering 87% of workers are actively disengaged or not engaged, which means they are:

  • emotionally disconnected from their workplace,
  • less likely to be productive,
  • more likely to spread negativity to their co-workers,
  • and more importantly, potentially disruptive to economic well-being in the organization.

Engaged employees embrace accountability, feel a connection to their workplace and have a sense of belonging within it. They are part of a dynamic and cohesive team with a shared goal of reaching peak performance.

Gallup writes employee engagement is linked to specific business outcomes, like higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings, but none are connected to a “bring your dog to work” policy.

Balance Management

The creativity-killing micro manager is seen as a boss who lacks trust and confidence in the abilities of his or her direct reports. When any project is assigned, engaged employees are fully committed and accountable because they know what is expected of them, they are provided with the necessary tools to do their work, and know that their managers trust they are capable of doing the job they are well positioned for. Earning the trust of direct reports is valuable to the foundational success of your organization – engaged employees are also committed and highly productive.

Alternatively, there is a risk with under managing and not giving employees sufficient direction and context to make decisions and take initiatives in a consistent way. There needs to be a balanced approach throughout an organization with an appropriate amount of context for understanding priorities and support – that is key to managerial effectiveness.

Establish the Framework for Fun

When perks are offered, there is often an expectation that they will improve employee engagement. But perks by themselves will not make a long term difference. The more fundamental work must be done by the CEO, to establish a framework to ensure that there is a context in place for employees to understand what they are accountable for and how they can engage these facilities in the most acceptable way.

You can’t expect instant success; you have to keep at it. That’s a very fundamental tenet of change management.

Remember: The hard work is establishing the accountability framework in the first place. Employee perks are just the icing on the cake and cannot be used with the expectation that they will grow an organization with engaged employees.