New Strategy to Boost Productivity: Employee Enrichment

by: Nichole Gunn May 3, 2011

With the economy in a post-recession mode, business trends have been undergoing changes in order to keep employees motivated and productive. A new concept brought forth to help accomplish these goals is “employee enrichment.”

This new term has emerged as a result of new market tendencies, the need for businesses to become transparent, and social media. It reflects the business world’s tactical move toward providing sincere ‘caring’ for employees as people. Business owners are urged to consider employees’ lives outside the workplace when designing work environments and incentive programs.

A recent study conducted by the Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement and reported in Customer Care News, notes that businesses that take advantage of this new tactical approach toward employees will see the benefits in their bottom lines. The Forum is a research center based in Naperville, Ill. and affiliated with Northwestern University.

The study titled “Leadership and the Performance of People in Organizations: Enriching Employees and Connecting People,” demonstrates that businesses are moving away from the survival recession mode. During the recession, the majority of companies needed to focus on survival, which meant more work, more stress, and possible layoffs for employees. While incentive programs and training strategies were somewhat helpful, they couldn’t counter the stress employees felt.

With the changing market tide, employees are now being afforded new work opportunities and employers are striving to enhance worker motivation, engagement, productivity, and improved retention rates. The study provides a new “people-first perspective,” and approach. Researchers, Won-joo Yun and Frank Mulhern, examined “the importance of identifying and meeting the needs of multiple constituents — employees, consumers, shareholders and the community at large.”

Employee enrichment takes the ‘work/life balance’ concept to a higher level. It is geared to demonstrate true concern toward employees, to provide the means for employees to better their lives in both the work and non-work environment. The premise of this ideology is that the better an individual’s well-being, the better he/she will perform.

Not to be mistaken for employee engagement, which is to engage workers toward higher performance, employee enrichment replaces the strategy of motivating workers specifically for enhanced company productivity with a “people-first” strategy. The latter strategy is expected to provide positive results for the company through enriched employees.

Interestingly, the employee enrichment approach encourages businesses to put workers/people first, while strategizing how to make this shift work and enhance their bottom line.

The shift of less control and more worker/people emphasis may be challenging for businesses since their primary goal is for the company to prosper. The report, unfortunately, doesn’t’ address ROI - “Implicit, but not dominant, is the expected positive outcome that enriched employees have on the organization’s performance.”

Focusing on people is ideal from a philanthropy standpoint, but businesses may be a bit leery of jumping in if they aren’t offered some form of proof that this strategy will produce an “identifiable financial benefit.” Obviously, additional research will be needed to provide a correlation between a business’s “people first” strategy and its bottom line.


About Nichole Gunn