There’s no doubt having happy workers is a good thing. Creating a workplace environment in which people know where they’re headed and feel recognised – financially and personally – is no mean feat. Organisations with highly engaged teams that are willing to put in extra effort when needed achieve 10 percent more productivity compared to companies where employees have low engagement.

A boost in performance sounds great, but engagement is just the first part of the performance equation. While it may sound contradictory, engaged employees can still feel frustrated if the work environment doesn’t enable them to perform at their best. Maybe they don’t have the resources they need, or their team isn’t collaborating effectively. Whatever the cause, these frustrations chip away at employees’ energy.

It’s only when these two things come together – engagement and enablement – that employees are unleashed to perform at their best. Together, these two aspects can drive a 50 percent increase in performance compared to employees who aren’t engaged and enabled. And if your survey doesn’t measure both engagement and enablement, then your organisation could be leaving performance potential untapped.

Engaged Performance in the age of disruption

Ever-changing market conditions make engagement and enablement both more critical and more challenging than ever before. As organisations seek to create flexible structures to chase opportunities and act on threats, employees can feel as though the ground is constantly shifting beneath them. High-performing organisations make it their business to ask their employees how they’re feeling about the work environment and constantly work to lift engagement and enablement to encourage discretionary effort and reap the performance gains.

The secret to unearthing these extra reserves of effort is to understand what really drives performance in your organisation’s particular context. This means measuring, analysing and acting on the factors that not only engage the workforce but also enable it, through making sure employees have the tools and support to get the job done.

When engagement and enablement come together, we call this Engaged Performance: employees are committed, loyal and willing to go the extra mile (engaged) and the right people are in the right roles, in an enabling work environment (enabled).

Many surveys on the market only look at the first factor – engagement. Korn Ferry’s survey, underpinned by the Engaged Performance Framework, investigates both. It then clusters employees into four distinct segments, based on relative levels of engagement and enablement in comparison to Korn Ferry’s global benchmark.

The ultimate goal is a workforce that feel both engaged and enabled – the ‘most effective’ segment. These employees are not only motivated to put in extra discretionary effort, there’s also nothing in the environment holding them back. This is the critical role of enablement in driving increased performance.

Drivers: the why behind the what

Understanding to what extent employees are both engaged and enabled is just the starting point. The real work is in understanding why this is the case. The Engaged Performance Framework gives organisations direct insight into how their employees feel about both the things the organisations is doing really well and the areas that need some work. These are the key performance drivers.

Analysing the key drivers is critical. Without knowing the drivers of performance within your organisation, it’s easy to target the wrong things. Driver analysis identifies the specific areas, like culture, leadership and resources, that impact performance based on your employees’ feedback. It gives leaders the data they need to identify where the greatest gains can be made and empowers them to act with intention and effect real change that can help shift greater number of employees into the ‘most effective’ quadrant.

Engaged Performance is the evolution of employee satisfaction. It’s about giving employees the tools to channel their motivation and effort and unleash their potential.

Learn more about how employee engagement separates the good companies from the truly great ones.

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About The Contributors

Rachael is a Partner based in Korn Ferry’s Auckland office. Leading New Zealand’s Advisory practice, Rachael works with directors, CEO's, and senior management teams to drive improved business performance through people performance. Rachael has over 20 years’ experience in Human Resources (HR) and remuneration management and has worked in both corporate and consulting roles in banking and finance, telecommunications, IT and not-for-profit.



John is a Senior Client Director based in Korn Ferry’s Auckland office. He brings over twenty five years of experience helping organisations achieve better business results through effective talent management. He has broad and deep expertise in competencies, uses of technology in HR, people analytics, and psychometric assessment. He has led and managed teams delivering effective solutions to clients across a range of industries, including, Financial Services, Information Technology, FMCG, Public Sector and Retail.