The premise of the contented employee is not to lavish loads of money as though you can buy results, it’s to build a culture to capture the discretionary effort of your human capital. This is that increment of human effort which is at exclusive discretion of the worker…another way of saying is this is what we do because we WANT to, not because we have to. 

Put simply, if the leaders of a corporation create an environment where the pebbles in people’s shoes that are that are holding them back are removed, then they will start to see results because ultimately people want to enjoy their work and where they work. 

When author of “Contented Cow Still Give Better Milk”,  Richard Hadden joined in the “Let’s Talk About This SHifT” conversation about culture, leadership, engagement. There he highlighted the research which proves the point. From a purely economic point of view, discretionary effort is the most profitable morsel of labour that your workforce can provide to you because you can’t pay for it…you can inspire it, YES and motivate it out of people, but you can’t buy it. “The difference from that with which we are capable and that with which is required,” said Richard. “If you can get people to work in that gap right there, you are golden, you are able to create some magic in the workplace.”

This is the magic companies continually listed on the best places to work have managed to capture. While some may suggest they are only able to do this because of their size, this is a false assumption. They intentionally created this culture where they and their workforce were keen focused on the targets and outcomes, each knowing their purpose from the beginning and this is what has translated into the year-over-year, decade after decade, growth and revenue.

The book compares these companies to the US economy on a whole and data over data supports that organizations who are aware and have built a strategy and are intentional about employee engagement, the quality of the culture, make more money, have lower turnover, recruit better, and grow faster because they’re more productive. 

“Every way you look at it, there’s a strong correlation,” he said. “There’s not causation, but there is strong correlation”

While some companies may be able to fake the engagement for a short period of time, this will quickly peter out, and results will dry up if it is not lived from the top down and back up again. “You’ve got to live those values. You have to know the mission and ensure your people know it as well.” It’s not enough to have a wordy mission statement on the wall if your people don’t know why they are there, what they are supposed to do and how to do it to drive the customer service and culture experience.

The last word on this is reputation recruits and reality retains…the realty has to match the reputation employees have heard about in order to keep them for the long term where they are willing to give you their very best.

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