Increasing engagement releases discretionary effort (the difference between the minimum required to survive and how much we actually put into our work). Additional discretionary effort doesn't increase costs, it flows straight to the bottom line.

Not surprisingly it's better to invest in increasing discretionary effort than in expanding resources eg via recruitment, or in retraining. It turns out the return on investment is up to 800% higher (that's no typo, I mean eight hundred percent).

When an employee perceives that their own and the organisation's goals are aligned, their engagement soars, and they take ownership (provided the employee believes the employer cares about them).

Some companies used to believe financial incentives were the key to motivating people. The evidence on that was patchy at best, and in any event it's clearly no longer enough. The 21st century employee is sensitive to employer self-interest and needs to feel mutually engaged.

That calls for goal congruence, shared values, enlightened leadership culture, positive emotional connections with colleagues and work, and replacing learned helplessness with a sense of ownership.

When these conditions are in place, discretionary effort takes off and transforms business performance as the organisation gets even closer to its potential.

That's why engagement separates winning organisations from the rest.

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