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Professional Football Proves Money Does Not Give You Employee Engagement

Posted by Aaron Keegan 08-Oct-2015 16:43:48


Sports stars have the most visible jobs and probably the most critical customers. They play in front of a live, vocal audience of 40,000 to 80,000 with millions more watching on TV and commenting through social media.

It is the ideal job, playing a sport you love in front of passionate fans earning millions a year, yet is there a problem with employee engagement?

Read more about employee engagement

Phil Neal, one of footballs most successful players played 417 games in a row during the 1970s. When asked how he achieved such a feat his reply was:

"There were two occasions when I could have missed a game. One was when I got a fractured cheekbone. Roger Davis the centre forward at Derby gave me an elbow [on 24 January 1976]. I had my cheekbone lifted in line with the rest of my face to put my face back in shape (by the way... it's never recovered, [Neal quips]). Bob Paisley came to me on Wednesday and said: 'How are you feeling?' I said: 'I'm ok. I'm over the operation and everything else.' I chose to play against the specialist's wishes who said that I shouldn't play for a month. I got away with it. I got over a broken toe, but I had to play for six weeks with size eight and a half on one foot and size seven on the other. Ronnie Moran made me a plaster cast on the little toe I had broken. It was uncomfortable with my normal size shoes. I had to find some way to be still able to kick a ball, tackle and maybe have a little injection to keep the pain away for 90 minutes. There were little incidents when I could have missed a game but I was doubly determined not to. It was so exciting. I didn't miss a day's training in all those years I was there. I wouldn't ring in for a cold. Every day I had a smile on my face."

Every day Phil had a smile on his face. Not because he was paid millions, back then footballers earned barely more than than the average wage, but because he loved his job. His goal was the same as his employer, the same as his customers. He understood they were all in this together.

In Premier League Football today there is a disconnect between these three stakeholders. The owners of the club are usually not local and could even work from a different continent. The players are now super rich and live in a world totally removed from their fan base. There are even reports of players incorporating hair dressing facilities into their homes so that they don't have to visit the barbers.

So compare Phil Neal to modern day Liverpool FC players such as Mario Ballotelli or Jose Enrique. They will take the pay check but seem more interested in looking good or being funny on social media rather than playing football and winning for Liverpool.

Despite the money they are not not engaged not only with the club but also it would seem the sport.

For any company to be really successful it needs the employees to believe in why they are in business and also to know they are respected for their contribution to its success. To experience this in action in sport just look at the dedication and commitment of amateur Gaelic Football and Hurling players.

Get your employees willing to go the extra mile, passionate to deliver for that demanding customer and see your business soar to the next level.

Demonstrate that your staff are an integral part of your success through a Wellness Programme that reflects your organisation's culture.


Topics: Resilience, Engagement

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