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Understanding, Education, and Engaging Your Organizational Culture are the Keys to Lasting, Positive Change, and High Performance

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Abstract:

The level to which employees are engaged significantly affects an organization's productivity, costs, customer service, and employee well-being. The impact of having highly-engaged employees has certainly been felt at the Charleston (SC) Water System (CWS), which has been transformed from a traditional top-down, hierarchical organization to one where the culture of engagement now permeates every aspect of their business.

Engagement of employees is the most important thing an organization can accomplish. Yet in North America, most employees are not engaged in their work. In fact, less than 30 percent of employees say they are engaged, according to research conducted over the past 30 years by the Gallup organization and outlined in the book, Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. Gallup's research indicates that a staggering 70 percent of North American employees consider themselves disengaged from their work. Even more alarming, almost 16 percent of workers are actively disengaged in their work, meaning they are doing things to hurt their organizations. This severely impacts organizational productivity and proceeds directly from the culture of the organization.

Having a culture of employee engagement dramatically improves the efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of any organization. The question is, how do we develop this culture of engagement in a utility organization? The purpose of this paper is to explore the theories behind engaged employees and examine how Charleston Water System put those principles to work. We will outline the benefits of employee engagement and explore how your organization can travel the same path as CWS.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2175/193864706783751230

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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