What is the cost of low people engagement?
The reality is this: chronic employee disengagement is costing businesses plenty today. In Part 2 of this series, I suggested that the growing disconnection, detachment, and disengagement of today’s employees demands that leaders focus on core (people) skills.
Part 1 of this blog explored four key words associated with engagement: Connecting, Respect, Value, and Voice.
These core concepts are really about how you, as a leader, engage your people.
As Kerry Sulkowicz’s points out: “…if employees don’t feel that their (boss) isn’t the real McCoy on a human level, they won’t respond very well. They react with distrust, disengagement, and even despair at the prospect of an automaton at the helm.” (Emphasis added)
The good news is that Step One of employee engagement is in your control: how engaged you are as a leader. However, there is a shared responsibility in this matter.
Levels of Engagement
An engaged leader faces three levels of employee engagement as outlined in Gallup’s review: engaged, not engaged, or actively disengaged.
The “engaged” employees are builders. They use their talents, develop productive relationships, and multiply their effectiveness through those relationships. They perform at consistently high levels. They drive innovation and move their organization forward.
The employees that are “not engaged” aren’t necessarily negative or positive about their company. They basically take a wait-and-see attitude toward their job, their employer, and their coworkers. They hang back and don’t commit themselves.
This brings us to the “actively disengaged” employees — the “cave dwellers.” They’re “Consistently Against Virtually Everything.” We’ve all worked with an actively disengaged employee who is not just unhappy at work; he acts out that unhappiness. Every day, actively disengaged employees tear down what their engaged coworkers are building. (Emphasis added)
Engagement and Pain
In terms of relationship, the act of “breaking off” an engagement – canceling the wedding plans and managing the return of gifts received – is not on an engaged couple’s list. Not only is it expensive in terms of lost deposits and time, disengagement is an emotionally painful process.
According to Curt Coffman, Global Practice Leader for Q12 Management Consulting and coauthor of Gallup’s best-selling book on great managers – First, Break All the Rules – a large portion of the work force is disengaged. That means they are living with the emotional pain of disengagement.
Gallup suggests 55% of all U.S. workers are not engaged while another 16% are actively disengaged. This means over 70% of American workers are disengaged on the job. The estimate of what actively disengaged workers cost the American economy is up to $350 billion per year.
This is sobering, to think that 71% of our working population lives each day with the emotional pain and frustration of disengagement at work. Furthermore, American businesses are operating at one third of their capacity. Think about it; what if only one third of a bank’s branches opened today? What does this look like in your company?
This is the human capital bad news; is there any good news in this reality check?
The good news has to be this: the opportunity for growth.
What will happen with an increase of engaged people in your operation?
Step One: live as an engaged leader and embrace this opportunity for growth.
How to tap into this “opportunity for growth”?
Returning to the analogy of our engaged couple, beyond their commitment level, what do we find? What must a couple have to move forward in a lifelong relationship?
To stay the course requires commitment and passion. For a couple, this intense emotion is the result of liking each other. They are “enthusiastic” about the each other. They are passionate about the “love of their life”.
To stay engaged, as an employee, requires commitment and passion, too. Being passionate about one’s work is basic to employee engagement. People who love what they do will make a difference in their world.
Even when you are an engaged leader, if your employees are not passionate about their role it will be difficult for them to remain engaged and committed. Living life with purpose and passion, while serving others is the key to a satisfying work life experience.
For personal reflection:
When it comes to levels of people engagement, how do you stack up against Gallop’s statistics?
What would happen in your organization with an increase of engaged people?
What do you think?
Please encourage the discussion by posting your thoughts.