Ingo Kallenbach

"Renewable" energy for exhausted organisations wanted!

How do you assess the energy level in your organisation? High? Low? Running out? How do employees talk about the company during an after-work-beer with friends? Do they gossip about how bad everything is, or do they talk about their daily office life with a positive attitude? And how high do you think is the engagement of your employees to really bring the company forward - not only with their own career in mind?
Major companies in particular suffer from fatigue due to the most diverse reasons: This becomes not only apparent in the increase of psychic strain on an individual basis, such as e.g. “Burn out“ or “Bore out“, but also in the way of working together, which is sometimes characterised by cynicism, a sarcastic note or even a lack of creativity and innovation, witnessed by a lack of suggestions for improvement or patent applications. People are tired and feel exhausted. A permanent status that spreads in some companies with paralysing effects. But somehow “IT“ still works, “ONE“ has arranged oneself, real life takes place after work.

Our personal, of course always subjective impressions, have been confirmed for years by serious studies. Internationally, the most significant and widest ones are the Gallup Studies (e.g. 2014), particularly with regard to the construct “engagement“. Similarly concipated - however with a German focus on small and medium-sized Companies (SMEs) - is the Top Job Trend Study of the University of St. Gallen (Quelle). The focus here is on the construct of the “organisational energy“.

A distinction is made between four energy conditions of organisations: resignative, corrosive, pleasant and productive energy. Desirable for companies are the last two energy conditions - however, we would use the word "healthy". Productive energy has a positive effect on the entire company performance, on growth, as well as on the customer satisfaction, but also with regard to employee satisfaction, employee attractivity, and innovative strength. What more could you want? Pleasant energy describes a status in which the employees are content and feel comfortable in the current situation. Interesting in this context is the aspect that for sustainable company development the share of pleasant energy should also be relatively high, because otherwise, the employees would have no chance to appropriately regenerate. However, if the pleasant energy exceeds the productive energy condition, there is the danger of falling into the trap of inertness, the comfort zone, in which you make yourself comfortable. Wolfgang Schäuble recently adequately noticed: “If people would only be content, we would all just fall asleep“ (in the FAZ of December 28th, 2014). Finally, the question remains what you can do to keep engagement and energy in your company lively and productive? From the view of the Top Job Study there are the following six points, that analogously counteract exhausted organisations:

  • - Mobilise your energy by means of excellent leadership.
  • - Along with your employees develop a clear strategy.
  • - It is known that the fish stinks from the head. The cooperation at the executive level influences the total organisation. Positively as well as negatively.
  • - Communicate positive customer feedback to your employees - that motivates.
  • - Build up a culture of trust.
  • Coordinate your entire personnel strategy with the company strategy.
    What do these results tell us? Leadership once more is the key and the main lever, which you were already aware of. Invest in it - in a sustainable manner. Readers on C-level should reflect on the actual cooperation in their executive committee. The results clearly show: Here as well investments are worthwhile, even if it might be an unpleasant, strenuous way with unpredictable outcome and many disappointments along the way.

The last point is certainly pleasant for all HR-representatives - a blessing regarding the diminishing importance of HR in companies. For you - as a reader of these notes - however, much rather a confirmation of our credo that HR must be closely tied with the company strategy and must be involved in its alignment.