The Key to Company Innovation: Employee Engagement

Posted by
Paul McCarthy
LivePerson Contributor
01/14/2015 - 13:48

In today’s ceaseless quest to stay ahead, a prized attribute for many companies is innovation. Successful companies know that a culture of true innovation comes not from its leaders, but from its employees.  

Understanding that employees are a company’s most valuable asset comes first. How can leaders ensure that employees are engaged, and take personal ownership in the company’s success?

Companies often miss the mark in understanding how to invest in people as their most valuable asset. One of the secrets can be found when you ask your existing employees to explain what they love about their job, and more times than not the response is along the lines of “I love the people I work with!” The path to building a strong culture is to pause for a moment and ask what experiences are you willing to invest in to create more meaningful connections between employees to strengthen their relationships with one another.

In truth, people are not your most valuable asset, rather the relationships between them are, and as a result of a deeper and more meaningfully connected workplace, you will see an increase in the level of engagement, productivity, and retention. Support and allow them to have the opportunities to get to know each other better, trust one another more, and share commonalities to work on something greater than their own contribution, which may result in greater innovation.

Taking employees from satisfied to engaged is not an easy feat, and is often a big investment. According to Bersin & Associates, U.S. companies spend $720 million a year on employee engagement initiatives. While business leaders are recognizing the major impact culture and engagement initiatives have—and are willing to shell out major dollars—much of it is trial and error. “The best companies--those scoring in the top 10 percent on employee surveys--register only about 38 percent of their employees as 'fully engaged.'

Even good business leaders may mistake employee satisfaction for engagement, but there is a crucial distinction between the two. While gym memberships, free food, and weekly office happy hours put a smile on employee faces, those perks don’t always add up to a culture that engages employees on a meaningful level. When all the parts that make up a company’s culture—its core values, people, experiences, processes, and more—work in unison to support and develop employees, the result is an emotional connection with immeasurable value. It is that type of connection that drives employees to work for more than just a paycheck, but for the collective mission and goals of the organization.

Meet your new class of employees

The employee mindset has shifted. Changes in technology, demographics, and lifestyle have changed the formula for “workplace happiness,” and what kind of incentives employees respond to. While traditional corporate structures like managerial hierarchies, routines, and the avoidance of risk, once produced solid results, they can do more harm than good when it comes to employee engagement, and can stifle innovation.

No longer are employees satisfied with doing the same job, day in and day out for 30 years, while steadily climbing the corporate ladder. Instead, opportunities for new challenges, along with recognition and rewards, are top priorities for the new workforce. These priorities are also crucial to employee engagement—almost as crucial as making sure you are supporting and developing the right kind of experiences between your people to create a lasting, meaningful workplace.

Why employee engagement matters

So how does employee engagement drive loyalty and overall career happiness?

The engaged employee goes the extra mile. Every employee has potential that extends beyond their job description. But the engaged employee willingly taps into his or her potential, works with passion, and seeks new challenges and opportunities that will drive success for the company as a whole. He is the salesman that is learning code in his spare time, the customer service representative that follows up with a customer to make sure their package arrived in time for the holidays, and the web developer that works hours into the night on a new app.

The engaged employee drives better business outcomes. According to the Workforce Research Foundation, engaged employees are 38 percent more likely to have above average productivity, and customer satisfaction can increase by 12 percent. Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202 percent.

The engaged employee aligns career goals with those of your organization, which results in innovation in processes, products or services that impact customer happiness—and the bottom line. Employees who are on board with a company’s overarching goals dedicate their personal resources (think brain power and downtime) to bettering themselves and their company. When this type of entrepreneurial freedom is embraced by leadership, the results are win-win.

Engaged employees create great products

There’s no such thing as a rulebook for creating an engaged workforce. What works for one may completely backfire for another. However, for LivePerson, our mission to create meaningful connections permeates every aspect of our business, including how the brand connects with employees.

It all starts with our shared values of being an owner and helping others. As the foundation of our culture, these values empower employees to hatch their own ideas and impact the business, whether it’s through a new program or process, or even new services or products. It’s those employees that give LivePerson an edge over competition, and the reason why we made it onto Internet Week’s 30 Best Places to Work in New York City Tech list.

The platform we deliver today, LiveEngage, has been built on the entrepreneurial spirit of all our employees. Knowing that employees possessed that spirit, and truly embraced LivePerson’s values, CEO Robert LoCascio challenged the organization to create a platform that would transform LivePerson into more than just a chat company. Watch the story of making LiveEngage and how our company culture influenced the creation of a platform we are all very proud of and that we believe can make a huge impact in the industry:

“Individuals who were really entrepreneurial raised their hands and said ‘I have a great idea.’ Good, and we funded them like small businesses.”

–Robert LoCascio, CEO, LivePerson

The creation of LiveEngage is not the only time in LivePerson history when an employee’s idea became a fundamental addition to LivePerson’s core product. One such employee, David Flammia, recognized an opportunity for LivePerson’s customers to tap into the wealth of consumer insights that the platform possesses. In his own time, he created a way to analyze the massive amount of consumer data that the platform collects and convert them into actionable business insights. With the support of the whole organization, the idea was developed into what is now LP Insightswith David leading the way as product owner.

"For many people, an idea lives only in their heads. They never see it come to fruition. But at LivePerson, I was given the support to explore, develop, and own making my idea a reality. The opportunity to turn a passion project into a tangible product, valuable enough to drive customer investments, happened because I knew the organization would embrace it."

–David Flammia, Sales Executive, LivePerson

Interested in an engaging employee experience with LivePerson? As a member of our team, you’ll experience the freedom to pave your own path to success with a company that inspires and promotes innovation; you’ll partner with the world’s leading brands; and you’ll have the opportunity to build relationships with a group of exceptionally talented professionals.

Learn more about current openings on the LivePerson team here.

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