The Vitality Index – A Force for Good Management
By prioritising a positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment, Bcorps are leading the way for business and being a force for good in this most crucial time in the planet’s history. Meanwhile, the wider business community has struggled for at least two decades with poor and stubborn-to-shift levels of employee engagement. A contributing factor to this has been the hangover of a “shareholder value maximisation” mindset. Employees are not energised by this; they have known for a long time that in order to be truly intrinsically motivated they need to feel they contribute to a higher purpose, beyond profit.
Many Bcorps have benefited from this; they are better able to attract and retain talent, and vitally tap into those levels of motivation that prevail when we know our efforts at work are contributing to a greater good. This is great news for all, but unfortunately in and of itself it is not sufficient. Recent Gallup research indicates there is one single factor that influences employee engagement more (70%) than all the others put together: management.
That is where The Vitality Index comes in. It is able to zero-in on the management processes, practices and behaviours, that, if changed will have greatest benefit in engendering not only high levels of engagement, but also enabling an innovative, change-enabled culture to emerge. These are specific to each organisation’s context at a precise moment in time and can be filtered by any attribute: region / business unit / function / team etc.
The Vitality Index (VI) diagnostic is different to polling your people by way of the “employee engagement survey” in several different ways:
- Engagement surveys usually don’t have a diagnostic capability; they aggregate thousands of responses into visually appealing bar charts, depicting the respondents’ judgement of various symptoms that they experience. By contrast, the VI’s diagnostic capability is based on our own empirical research of organisations and how they are led, managed and organised. From this evidence base, artificial intelligence is able to pin-point the specific and addressable practices that reside below the surface level symptoms, thus the things to start experimenting with.
- The Vitality Index offers concise, actionable insights. A typical Investors in People (IIP) “Insights Assessment Report” runs to around 50 pages of words, stock images, numbers, charts and graphics. In our experience, at this weight, most with line management responsibility leave them unread, and even if read, un-actioned. In contrast, a line manager on the receiving end of the VI output for their team only receives the information that s/he needs to make improvements, things they can get started within an hour.
- As mentioned above, recent data from Gallup, the leading authority in employee engagement globally, identifies that 70% of resultant employee experience can be tracked back to management and management practices. It is at this causal level that Indexer operates. It is so far as we know none of the engagement surveys do this.
- Getting insights from employees is relatively easy compared to getting hearts-and-minds change to happen informed by those insights. In recognition of this, we integrate a package of support that ensures that there is follow through and systemic change results.
- The Vitality Index operates at the level of small teams. Changing the climate of each and every team changes the culture of the entire organisation in a way that “top-down” initiatives never could.
- Many employee engagement surveys guide organisations towards a “gold standard” that is showing its age, aligned to a style of management more relevant to the world of work in the very early 1900’s. This was a time when repetitive manual labour was the norm. This is not the management we need if we wish to create an environment where highly intelligent and skilled knowledge workers can bring their very best creativity and intellect to the fore. Enlightened leaders know this, they are looking for ways to break away from a “parent-to-child” relationship prevailing in the management dyads of their organisation. The VI directs organisations towards management practices based on what science tells us, not what we’ve always done. A working environment where everyone, regardless of their role or status shows up in an adult-to-adult climate, able to speak freely and give of their best.
- Most employee engagement surveys have a strong benchmarking and “league-table” element. This has held great appeal with conventional leaders who have been conditioned to have a scarcity mindset. Younger leaders and more progressive organisations have realised that an abundance mentality; sharing, learning and collaborating is a much better way to go in the current era of business. Our service is very much aligned to the latter; the emphasis is to improve from where we are as an organisation, as opposed to trying to beat or emulate other organisations, whose context is very different.
- Engagement surveys tend to ask direct, judgemental questions. Whilst on the surface this may seem to be appropriate, these types of questions invite a significant amount of bias, both conscious and unconscious, and this data contamination severely affects the validity of the output. Improvement actions based on by unreliable data are unlikely to bring the desired impact.
If you are the leader of a Bcorp, or a leader finding your own way to having a more holistic and positive impact, we are cheering you on all the way. You are already committed to enabling your people to do the best, most rewarding work of their lives, and give them the best possible employee experience. That desire is commendable. However, desire is one thing; knowing exactly what to do, and how to do it, based on causes and not presenting symptoms is much more challenging.
This is precisely where the Vitality Index comes in. It is able to identify, for each and every team in your organisation, what practices, processes and behaviours will, if changed bring greatest benefit. We support those teams to get started with change right away, change that they own and change that they feel good about.
If you would like some help, then it fits perfectly with our purpose to support you. Why not get in touch, we love a good conversation.
The conversation has the potential to change the future of your organisation.