In an era when post-survivor layoff disorder is discussed in Fortune magazine (2 March 2009 issue), where do your employees fall in your priority list? Are they at the top where they should be?

Even Jack Welch, the titular father of the shareholder value movement, has recently denounced putting the shareholder ahead of employees and customers as a “dumb idea” in a recent issue of the Financial Times, saying: “On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world. Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy …Your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products.”

Valuing your employees is now more important than ever as employee health falters due to the psychological impact of the recession. Workforce Management pointed out:

“Employers realize that margins are tight, and know they need a fully engaged and productive workforce. The economy is becoming a real motivator for employers to start paying attention to absenteeism in a way they never really did before.

“[According to Hewitt Associates], when we conduct engagement surveys and see high levels of engagement, we also see lower levels of absenteeism. Correspondingly, high levels of absenteeism usually reflect poor levels of engagement.”

Employee loyalty, employee value, employee engagement – all critical to achieving your goals, but often lacking as people fall under more and more pressure. The returns to getting it right are enormous, even to shareholders but, as Welch said, only when shareholder value is treated as a result and not a strategy.

What are you doing to make valuing your employees your strategy? Are you actively telling and showing them how much you appreciate their efforts? What simple acts of recognition are you making to foster employee loyalty?

Derek Irvine, Globoforce

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