Written by Andy Goram, Bizjuicer Consulting
According to Gallup's State of the Global Workforce Survey 2017, global employee engagement growth has been stagnant for nearly two decades, despite billions being spent. 85% of the workforce is not engaged with what they are doing or who they are doing it for, and the UK is fairing worse than the average with 89% either not engaged or actively disengaged, what are businesses doing wrong?
$7 trillion a year in lost productivity
The cost to businesses for this lack of engagement in lost productivity alone is said to be in excess of $7 trillion a year, worldwide. Closer to home, it is estimated that it now costs roughly one-third of a job salary to replace and retrain a new recruit for a position in the UK. The added costs and missed opportunities coming from either a lack of focus on workforce engagement, or in doing the wrong things are frankly, criminal. What a stunning and sad waste of so much time, effort, money and potential.
"Seismic, transformational performance improvement up for grabs"
But it doesn't have to be like that. Companies that do get it right consistently out-perform their competitors. Gallup's survey also suggests the difference between engagement leaders and laggards is as much as +17% on productivity and +21% in profitability. That's a seismic, transformational performance improvement up for grabs by doing the right things, showing long-term commitment to your people and lighting-up their true engagement.
My definition of "True Engagement", which is what I believe releases a potent, performance improvement force in your business is simply, having a strong connection with your work and your colleagues, feeling like you really contribute and matter to the business and receiving and enjoying ample chances to learn and develop. This "True Engagement" is what can consistently lead to positive outcomes for employees, customers, organisations and shareholders.
However, I can't tell you how many times I've sat in conversations with leaders who say,
"We'll look at this once we've driven up the numbers. We can't afford to get distracted at the moment."
It's like they can't see the relationship between people and performance. Like it's an independent, binary relationship or something. I just don't get it. These are not stupid people, but they are still living and thinking in a short-term, siloed way and not joining up the dots for repeatable, on-going success. It's a real shame.
U.S. Employee Engagement +3 Times Stronger Than Western Europe
Maybe it's because creating sustainable engagement takes long-term commitment, focus and great communication. It doesn't happen overnight. Bean Bags and Free Beer Friday are lovely short-term tactics, but they are not the solution to a distinctive, long-lasting cultural shift delivering improved performance. The same Gallup report shows that U.S. employee engagement is more than 3 times higher than that of Western Europe (35% vs. 10%). It's suggested that the contrast and productivity edge gained by the U.S. comes down to management practices and the orientation of their performance management systems around the basic human needs for psychological engagement. This covers things such as positive workplace relationships, frequent recognition, on-going performance conversations and regular opportunities for personal development.
If you do nothing else...
Look, I recognise getting this stuff going can seem scary and daunting in the midst of everything else going on inside your business today, but in an attempt simplify it all and to get you started, if you do nothing else, these are what I consider to be 3 of the fundamental foundation blocks to establishing genuine, true engagement with your people, that will lead to better, more sustainable business performance:
Create Meaning. Show your people where you're going and why. Help all your employees understand how meaningful their work is and how it helps the organisation to fulfil its greater purpose.
Give Genuine Praise. Give your employees the recognition they deserve. Be generous, personal, timely, unexpected and public with your praise.
Equip Leaders to Manage Trust. Enable and support your leaders and supervisors to demonstrate, manage and earn trust and respect for all employees.
Once you've committed to the path, there's so much more you and your employees can do to create, grow and embed a true engagement culture. But, focus first on these three things and wrap them up in a genuine, engaging and inspiring communication continuum and you will start to see the lights go on in people's eyes and the results will follow.