How HR can prevent world revolution

HRM 12 Nov 2012

The world economy isn’t growing fast enough and this is starting to cause some serious problems. One issue in particular that comes to mind is revolution. Any number of countries suffering from low growth and high unemployment could explode in the next few years.

So how can a human resources executive help save the world – or at least his or her country? The answer starts right in your own workplace. HR executives can save their countries by building stronger companies. That means helping their businesses get new customers – or building out the current ones they have.

And there will be plenty of new potential customers in the coming decades. Right now, the world’s GDP is $60 trillion, and that figure will grow to $200 trillion in the next 30 years. Simply put, the global economy will have $140 trillion worth of new customers. Nothing is more important to the future of Singapore than winning a significant amount of the $140 trillion. Competing for those customers will be the global Olympics for world economic dominance. The winners will enjoy thriving economies and workplaces. The losers will face unrest and revolution.

HR executives can help Singapore vie for world dominance by building workplaces that win and grow customers.

Here is the math: 25% of Singaporean employees are what Gallup calls “engaged.” That means they work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.  These employees are the ones most likely to bring your company new business, because Gallup has found that engaged employees create engaged customers. This 25% will determine how much of the $140 trillion Singapore wins.

Half of employees are “not engaged” (50%):  they’re sleepwalking through their workday with no energy or passion. Then there are the “actively disengaged” (25%), who are not just lousy, but aggressively lousy. They go door to door petitioning misery, and undermine what engaged employees accomplish. They drive away customers.

Here’s how Singapore can win the global Olympics for the lion’s share of $140 trillion in new customers: Every company must double the number of engaged employees. That starts with you, HR executive, in your company. And it spreads around the country from there.  When and if Singapore doubles its workforce engagement, only great things will follow: an economic boom, an explosion of innovative ideas, and a surge in entrepreneurship. No country can ramp up ideas and entrepreneurship high enough right now. There are literally trillions of dollars of customer revenue waiting to be won.

Hiring and developing great managers, and building up and leveraging the strengths of every individual employee are the two keys to doubling employee engagement. How employees feel about their jobs starts and ends with their direct supervisor. If employees feel, among other things, that their supervisor takes a real interest in their development, or offers frequent praise and recognition, they are very likely to be engaged. Hiring the right managers is absolutely essential to building an engaged workforce. If companies throughout Singapore hire the right people to lead and supervise their workforces, economic dominance will be sure to follow.

And great managers know what decades of Gallup research has revealed:  Trying to get employees to fix their weaknesses – through “360 degree feedback” and “competency models” – doesn’t work. Weaknesses can’t be developed much at all – but employees’ strengths  develop infinitely. The problem is, too many companies focus on weakness fixing, and this only breeds non-engagement or worse, active disengagement. No company or country will win the global economic Olympics with this approach.

Great managers build development plans around every single employee’s strengths. When employees work from strengths, nothing motivates them to achieve more – not money, not love, not vacations, not good benefits, not company volleyball games, not motivational speakers. And employees working from their strengths win new customers.

There are many tests and assessments out there that help companies uncover their employees’ talents and strengths.  Equipped with the knowledge of their dominant talents, managers and teams learn to accomplish tasks with greater effectiveness, set more targeted goals, maximise collaboration among members, increase productivity, and perform to the highest.  Increased understanding of one’s greatest talents also leads to deeper employee engagement and higher levels of performance. In fact, our studies indicate that employees who have an opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged in their jobs.   

As an HR executive, you play an essential role in doubling your company’s employee engagement. Imagine the benefits your organisation would reap if it could strategically hire candidates based on their talents, and then help them leverage those talents to perform with strength. Motivation and engagement levels would soar and turnover and attrition would be minimised.  Only HR can hardwire strengths throughout the organisation and ensure that your business hires the right people to be managers. Do your job right and you’ll save not only your company but help your country to thrive – and win the global economic Olympics for $140 trillion in new customers. 


Contributed by:

Jim Clifton

Chairman and CEO


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