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How to Overcome Employee Engagement Barriers With a Continuous Improvement Program

As one of Qmarkets’ strategic partners, Above + Beyond (A+B) provides specialized management consulting services to companies across North America, including the leading payment solutions provider TSYS. In this Expert Spotlight piece, Sebastian Apelt – Managing Partner at A+B – shares how this innovative project has led to some remarkable results for all parties.

The Danger of Employee Disengagement

According to a recent poll by Gallup, only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs. In Canada and the U.S. – where levels are the highest in the world – the rate for engagement has been stuck at around 30% for nearly a decade, growing from 29% in 2011 to 31% in 2017.

On top of this, it’s estimated that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S between $483 and $605 billion annually in lost productivity. Given the scale and cost of this stagnation, engagement has become a top issue for businesses and business leaders alike, pushing all industries towards an entirely new management model.

lack of work engagement
This Gallup poll highlights the high-levels of non-engaged and actively disengaged employees across a broad spectrum of industries.

Growing conversations on these trends have linked employee engagement directly to business productivity and efficiency, as well as employee and brand loyalty. While it’s easy to see these points as clear indicators of success, employee work engagement has always been difficult to measure, especially for HR.

As we shall see, Project WOW offers a means to leverage employee engagement and collaboration for your continuous improvement program.

It’s all in the Numbers – Quantifying Employee Engagement for your Continuous Improvement Program

When it comes to measuring employee engagement, you often can’t take your employees “at their word”. While it can be tempting to survey your employees, or ask them directly to evaluate their own workplace satisfaction, the data you receive will inevitably be flawed. No matter how adamant you are that your process will be anonymous, most employees simply don’t trust this promise enough to be completely honest with their answers.

In addition to the above, it’s also crucial to avoid using a “one-size-fits-all” approach to employee engagement. This is because one of the most significant factors in this challenge is, of course, the role of the individual in the company. We know from recent studies that employees in knowledge-based roles are much more likely to be engaged than employees in routinized, clerical, or manual jobs. While previously this might have been accepted as an inevitability, this is not an attitude that companies can afford to maintain.

Fortunately, with Project WOW, A+B provides an opportunity for employees at all levels to collectively discuss organizational challenges and uncover ideas for transformation (for example, transformation through products or internal practices). Employees then take those ideas and turn them into projects, which naturally boosts work engagement and improves organizational processes all together. By letting employees choose which projects matter most to them – and then lead the execution – Project WOW continuously creates opportunities for people to step up and contribute towards progress in real and meaningful ways.

Building on a Solid Foundation

Many organizations hire external consultants to make changes to improve workplace efficiency. However, this approach doesn’t account for the employees themselves.  Employees don’t often get a seat at the table, which means they don’t buy into changes since they do not feel any sense of ownership. More often than not, proposed solutions plummet simply because they never gained traction with the people that needed to implement them in the first place.

Project WOW is designed to bridge this disconnect. It is a hackathon-style program that helps organizations engage employees in idea sharing and problem solving, creating more investment in solutions and accountability in the culture.

Conducted in a fast-paced, energetic environment, this highly collaborative process promotes accountability, because people invest more in initiatives that germinate from their ideas. And employees don’t have to worry about committing to lengthy projects; all ideas are tested, built out, and scaled in an accelerated 90-day cycle. By tapping directly into employee innovation expertise and perspectives, organizations are able to discover inefficiencies and generate new ideas that will ultimately help them improve savings and increase profits.

Leveraging Employee Engagement to Achieve Operational Excellence

In 2017, we brought project WOW to TSYS – a leading payment solutions company based in the U.S, with clients and offices across the globe. Similar to most industries, TSYS operates within business segments that are experiencing unprecedented change. As a growth company looking to stay ahead of the competition, TSYS was looking for a solution to improve internal collaboration, communication, and innovation across their organization. They hoped to discover better, faster, and cheaper solutions for their customers.

Rather than understanding employee engagement as an isolated driver of productivity, we like to take a step back and look at workplace efficiency as a whole. Methods for improving efficiency vary from company to company, but almost always include creating inclusive workplaces that boost teamwork, streamlining communication across teams and departments, implementing incentivizing rewards and recognitions for staff, and keeping up with other actionable steps that work simultaneously with overarching strategic goals. These are all things TSYS has been able to achieve through WOW.

During the initial implementation of WOW, we trained over 130 TSYS change agents and engaged 3,300+ technology employees to explore organizational inefficiencies and uncover opportunities for innovation. Within 90 days, this highly collaborative process led to dramatic results beyond what we could have imagined.

At the Fusion of Technology & Methodology

After the success of WOW with TSYS Technology, we partnered with Qmarkets to support our methodology through an idea management platform, so that our clients would be able to take WOW into their own hands. This allows them to become self-sufficient and embed the WOW process as a sustainable part of their culture.

continuous improvement process

Leveraging Qmarkets’ suite of collective intelligence solutions, TSYS and other WOW clients are now able to tackle a wide variety of corporate challenges, including innovation management, continuous improvement program launches, scouting, open innovation, and hackathons.

Exclusive Insights from a Fintech Giant

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On Wednesday, March 6th, 2019, Qmarkets will be hosting a webinar with TSYS and Above + Beyond to go over the success of Project WOW. Join our discussion at 12pm EST to learn more about TSYS’ experience with WOW, the dramatic ROI they gained as a result, and how the WOW software can help organizations engage their people and discover more opportunities for amplifying efficiency and innovation…

Register for this webinar to gain:

✔ First-hand insights from James Addis and Jessica Burch from TSYS on the company’s crowdsourcing strategy.

✔  Field-proven best practices from Andrew Levison and Sebastian Apelt from Above + Beyond.

✔  In-depth answers to your most pressing innovation and continuous improvement program challenges from our panel of speakers.

To gain exclusive crowdsourcing and continuous improvement insights, register for our webinar with TSYS and Above + Beyond today! If you’d like to find out more about how Qmarkets’ innovation management software can boost employee work engagement, don’t hesitate to schedule a free demo with us today!

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