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Many believe that organizations have to continually reinvent themselves in order to keep up with all that is changing around them. They point to the fact that those who cling to the status quo eventually die or are acquired by those who don’t, and they often – quite proudly – point to themselves as the poster child of what effective organizational change looks like.
All is not what it seems, however.
The truth is that whether organizations …

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Home » Change Leadership, Research & Studies

Employee Engagement is Key to Successful Large-Scale Change

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engagement-is-keyAccording to a recent survey titled What Successful Transformations Share conducted by McKinsey (2010), maintaining strong leadership and energy for change among employees are two principles of success. When executed well, these principles reinforce one another. For example, when leaders focus on ensuring that frontline staff members feel a sense of ownership, the results show a 70 percent success rate for transformations. When frontline employees take the initiative to drive change, transformations have a 71 percent success rate. When both principles are in effect, the success rate rises to 79 percent.

Their survey also identified eight successful structural and executional approaches to change. Five of them relate to ensuring that employees are engaged, often through leadership initiatives.

  • Instill a sense of ownership for the change among frontline staff
  • Use ongoing communications to involve and energize the organization
  • Ensure leaders “walk the talk” by role-modeling the desired changes
  • Deploy top talent to carry out critical parts of the transformation
  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities to promote accountability for results

Business transformations are not the only time that employee engagement matters. Towers Watson found that employee engagement through effective communication is an indicator of financial performance. Companies that engaged employees through highly effective communication had 47% higher total returns to shareholders over the last five years compared with firms that were the least effective in engaging employees through communication.1

Moreover, ISR2 found over a 12-month period companies with high levels of employee engagement benefitted from the following:

  • 19.2 percent improvement in operating income
  • 13.7 percent improvement in net income growth rate
  • 27.8 percent rise in EPS (earnings per share)

Bottom line: employee engagement strategies are a smart investment to increase the success rate of your large-scale change efforts and improve company performance.

How is your business transformation program performing? Find out by taking the free assessment at

1 2009/2010 Communication ROI Study Report: Capitalizing on Effective Communication, Towers Watson, 2009
2 The ISR Employee Engagement Report, ISR, 2006

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Jesse Jacoby
The Editor of Emergent Journal and founder of Emergent, Jesse is a recognized expert in business transformation. He and his team partner with Fortune 500 and mid-market companies to deliver successful people and change strategies. Jesse is the creator of the Accelerating Change & Transformation (ACT) model and developer of Change Accelerator and Savvy Transition. Contact Jesse at 303-883-5941 or

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