29 September 2019

That Dirty Word: “Engagement”

According to the most recent 2016 Gallup Study, nearly 70% of the US workforce is unengaged and not reaching anywhere close to their full potential (I believe the number is actually higher than this).


The repercussions of this are quite scary. That means right now, almost 70% of your direct reports are searching for a new job and if they find one and you are forced to replace them. Once replaced, there is still a 70% chance that new person will eventually be searching for another job too!


So how do we stop the madness? And have you ever wondered if companies are doing anything about this stat or if they even care?


Here’s another interesting stat from another Gallup Studythere’s a 240% increase in performance-related business outcomes when employees and customers are engaged.


Why wouldn't we want that level of engagement and the benefits that come with it?


Nothing is more frustrating than being an employee who knows they are capable of more, but no one is listening, offering more challenge, or providing new opportunities. Despite what the numbers are indicating, employees want to be engaged and excited about work. 


Employees want to feel that there are no ceilings placed on their potential. They want to work in an environment where mutual trust is cultivated, versus talked about.


They want to take risks and stretch themselves, but often times they are asked to “silently march to the corporate drum beat”.


Lack of engagement makes it impossible to get up in the morning and face the day with passion and excitement.


So what can be done? Change doesn’t happen overnight for most organizations, it is several deliberate steps in a different direction until the desired benefits or outcomes are realized.


So what are some of the factors that move the needle on engagement?


  • Employees working remotely increase engagement

Creating flexibility for your workforce. We have seen that commute times are a large deciding factor in someone leaving or staying at an organization. Remote options provide less stress for employees.


  • Tailored engagement plans (based on role, tenure, generation, education, etc.)

This implies that it is not a corporate plan that comes down from above, but a conversation and dialogue between leader and team member.


  • Increase in Trust & Candor

Open and clear communication is paramount. Your team members need to be able to talk to you openly and honestly. Put the ego on the back burner and listen with a desire to understand.


  • Leadership Training

Let’s be clear, without investing in your managers to be good leaders, none of this dialogue will take place and you will continue to have the same results. Managers must know how to have the right dialogue with their employees. That means often, not once a year during an uptight annual review.


Notice something interesting here? Money, free perks and food were not mentioned. A lot of times these things are important, but they are not the only levers you have. 


The more mature your workforce is, the more they begin to realize that money alone is not a driver of engagement and satisfaction. 


Working on what you love and what matters is extremely important; now add working in an environment where you feel trusted and valued, and you have a winning combination for employee engagement.


Doing what matters, with people who feel you matter, in an environment where you are trusted, challenged, and valued is what engagement looks like!


Take Action:

Are you a people manager? Sit down with your team this week and ask them a few questions like:


  • What makes you feel engaged at work?
  • What would you want to change about your role and what would you love to work on more often?
  • What areas would you like to receive more growth and challenge?

Then move heaven and earth to make it happen for them. Keep great people at all costs!



About the Author: 


Natalie Born is an innovation strategist. She has spent the last 15 years designing and creating products with the goal of creating customer delight. She has contributed to two approved US patents during her career and is passionate about helping organizations leverage the incredible talent they have to create the outcomes they want.


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Innovation Meets Leadership