By Kate C. LaMons, MS
The majority of America’s workforce is not engaged at work. The statistics about employee engagement are not hard to find; it’s nearly impossible to avoid the glaring headlines that only 30% of employees are actually engaged in their work today. The remaining 70% are either not engaged, or are actively unhappy at work. Even more disturbing, the actively unhappy and disengaged attitude is contagious – it’s affecting your organization quickly and broadly, permeating all levels of employees.
Beyond the statistics, it’s clear that engagement is highly beneficial to any organization, given its links to key business outcomes and employee well-being. And we know the “levers” that impact engagement – rewards and recognition, valuing employee input, clearly outlining expectations, providing basic resources and developmental opportunities, etc.
So if we have all the information, why hasn’t this percentage shifted in the last 10 years? Why are we still talking about the miserable state of America’s employee engagement? Because it’s too easy to take an engagement survey, talk about the results, and then simply fall back into the day-to-day business of your job responsibilities. We have all experienced the crush of an everyday workload – it’s really difficult to commit to this kind of initiative, especially one that is so long-lasting and deeply impactful. However, it is critical to keep our point of view clear that the engagement survey results are not the end of the discussion, but rather the catalyst for the upcoming year’s worth of work necessary to engage your organization. Organizations and leaders that fail to recognize this gap are doomed to remain in the 30% statistic. And what you’ll find is that once you commit, you’ll begin reaping benefits immediately – creating engagement can be fun and it’s definitely rewarding!
Also remember that you’re not doing this alone. Too often, survey results live and die with the company executives in a closed boardroom, after consultants have walked them through their results. Action planning and an engagement strategy simply cannot be handed down from the top if you want to successfully engage your organization. And guess what? Consultants can’t give you the answers either. The survey data needs to be validated through dialogue with employees at all levels, and then together, you decide what you’re going to do about them. Though it sounds straightforward, it is probably one of the most difficult things we ask leaders to do. The results are (or should be) somewhat personal to you, and it’s not easy to look employees in the eyes and ask them to trust this process enough to be honest about what they need, nor is it easy to admit that there are areas where you could improve in your leadership and your ability to engage your workforce.
This is where the consultants like our team at FMG Leading come in – we can help to facilitate, guide, synthesize, and plan. We partner with you to help you discover the tools and insight that you need to dig in and engage your workforce. Once we prepare you, we step out of the way to let the true work (and results) come organically out of the joint efforts of you as leaders, and the people whom you lead. Learn to sit in the uncomfortable place of having authentic dialogue about the issues that matter the most to your employees and your organization. Value their input. Give them feedback about their suggestions and comments. Show them what the results mean to you, and what you are committed to as a leader. In short, do what it takes to actually impact your engagement, not just passively learn about it.