What Is Total Employee Involvement?

Total employee involvement is an organization methodology and set of management principles that encourages individual contributors, team members, and employees to participate much more in the problem solving, decision making and planning processes that affect their organization.

Within total employee involvement, team members are encouraged to learn more about their organization, contribute ideas, feel more engaged, and look for new opportunities that will help the organization be more competitive and effective. Traditionally this type of work and responsibility has resided with only managers and leaders in the organization.

This philosophy engages your workforce to consistently contribute directly to improving their organization. It may contribute to greater overall retention rates, in addition to increased employee motivation to give ideas and help innovate. Employee involvement of any degree results in greater motivation, performance, and sense of responsibility for the long term sustained success of the enterprise.

How Is Involvement Increased?

Total employee involvement may be implemented through a variety of initiatives:

  • Interview and short surveys that ask employees for specific opportunities and recommendations to improve the business—provided leadership is willing to actively respond to the data
  • Internal training that gives team members the skills to contribute more to organizational improvements and transformation
  • A steering committee team that finds ways to get members involved and helps them contribute
  • An HR team that helps contributors expand their responsibilities over time

What Are the Benefits of Employee Involvement?

With total employee involvement, all team members have the opportunity to help their organization grow, reach its objectives, and overcome obstacles. They are able to use more of their talents and intellect, along with feeling connected to other team members who are doing the same. This also leads to benefits for the organization, such as:

  1. High Level Retention: When your team members see that you are interested and care about their talents and contributions, they’ll be less likely to want to go to another company. Plus, they may tell others about their job satisfaction, which can attract new talent.
  2. Higher Motivation: Letting individual contributors use their abilities and autonomy will motivate them to work smarter and be engaged. Plus, managers who believe in total employee involvement communicate much more with their team members, which improves morale and encourages creativity and inspiration.
  3. Enhanced Talent Development: Through greater communication, training and coaching, this management approach will help lead to colleagues who understand your organization, customers, and industry much better. As they learn, team members will feel free to give feedback, share insights, and take responsibility to implement business improvements. Over time, people will gain greater passion for continuous improvement, which will motivate them to continue learning and contributing to the success of the enterprise.
  4. Easier Change Management: All organizations go through the never-ending cycle of change. Team members who don’t understand the reasons for changes tend to resist them. In contrast, members who are already involved in organizational improvements are likely to adapt to change more quickly and actually be change agents for the business.
  5. Focus on Results: When team members are informed about your organization’s goals and objectives and involved in obtaining them, they will be more focused on critical K.P.I.’s and create value for all stakeholders. Managers will have less need to push contributors to focus on objectives.

What Are the Disadvantages of Employee Involvement in Decision Making?

Total employee involvement can be difficult and a disadvantage if you believe that your team members are skeptical and adversarial or act out of ill will toward the organization due to past mistreatments.

Theories about human nature hypothesize that drive for achievement is always suspect because of unconscious drives and motives. These theories suggest that individuals have no inherent motivation of their own to take responsibility for anyone or anything besides themselves. Leaders who subscribe to such philosophies will see total employee involvement as risky and speculative.

Another disadvantage is that in some crises, delicate situations, or circumstances which require confidentiality, leaders simply need to provide explicit direction to people without collaboration. For example, a leader may need to inform the workforce that they must follow certain government regulations. Not everything can be debated or contested.

Sometimes leaders will need to take a middle approach in some situations in which they can consult with team members for opinions and guidance but must ultimately make a final decision on their own. There is still a risk that team members may feel that their input isn’t being respected if they feel that policies are always flowing from the top down.

How Does Employee Involvement Relate to Total Quality Management (TQM)?

Total quality management (TQM) is an older framework for organizational management. It started to become less popular in the 1990s, but some of its eight essential principles are still relevant to various forms of employee involvement.

One of those principles speaks directly to total employee involvement. It was defined as having every team member put some of their own ideas and efforts into shared goals and objectives. TQM proclaims that employees should be given the opportunity to self-manage, be empowered to make important decisions, and be treated in such a way that they might be confident and feel respected in the workplace.

How Can Leaders Improve Employee Involvement?

Experimenting with employee involvement may be an effective strategy for your organization.  But there are some important considerations to keep in mind as you improve or implement greater levels of employee involvement.

  • Open Communication: Give all team members an easy method to reach out to leaders and give them ideas, express concern, and discuss opportunities.
  • Better Feedback Mechanisms: Improve the ways that you get feedback from individual contributors. Allow for anonymous input and be sure to respond to feedback and comments on all inquiries.
  • Improved Onboarding: Provide thorough training and explain expectations to new employees, get their questions answered, and provide the resources they need to start contributing more quickly.
  • Peer Recognition: Create processes and spaces that encourage team members to publicly recognize the contributions of their peers and offer suggestions to enhance performance.
  • Shared Stories: Set up online communities where colleagues can tell each other stories and share their experiences. Let them give each other insights about opportunities for improvement in a natural way.

CMOE Can Help

Knowing what total employee involvement is can help improve efficiency and culture at your workplace. CMOE’s Innovation Skills course can empower anyone at your organization to better contribute value added ideas. You can also speak with one of our experts to learn more about how greater employee involvement can be development across your organization.

total involvement equals effective collaboration