Employee Engagement: Why is the world talking about it?

A leadership priority is emerging — how to improve Employee Engagement within companies: There have been disquieting developments in recent times. The world wide surveys are throwing up alarmingly low engagement scores.

Surveys in the US over the last few years indicate that indices like ‘loyalty’ and ‘trust’ have collapsed from the 80% levels to 30% levels. Some reasons researchers cite are:

  • Feeling of being unfairly treated resulting in desperation and depression
  • Sense of stagnation at work, resulting in disinterest
  • Focus on increasing productivity resulting in uncertainty about jobs
  • Inability of managerial capability to engage with the workforce & implement the polices in the true spirit & essence

There are many reasons for disengagement; and it is universally accepted that ENGAGEMENT sits on the top-level strategy table. While technically this is an idealistic positioning, in reality the challenge is that, almost around the globe, “down the line Managers” is unaware of the problem, and that is the being cited as the single largest contributor for alarming figures of disengagement.

Needless to say, if too many people begin to feel disengaged the consequences can be disruptive.

As the pioneer in the employee engagement movement, Gallup has consistently found powerful links between employees who are engaged in their jobs and the achievement of crucial business outcomes. Companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share and realize:

  • 41% fewer quality defects
  • 48% fewer safety incidents
  • 28% less shrinkage
  • 65% less turnover (low-turnover organizations)
  • 25% less turnover (high-turnover organizations)
  • 37% less absenteeism

A highly engaged workforce means the difference between a company that thrives and one that struggles. When employees are engaged, they are passionate, creative, and entrepreneurial, and their enthusiasm fuels growth. These employees are emotionally connected to the mission and purpose of their work. When employees are not engaged, they are indifferent toward their jobs — or worse, outright hate their work, supervisor, and organization — and they will destroy a work unit and a business (from Gallup Website)

Building engagement is not just a skill building exercise; it requires a certain amount of sensitization to make managers aware of the consequences of a culture which is not engaging. This awareness will help in deeper shifts at the attitudinal level which would support positive behavioural.

The 3 key elements that are necessary for increasing the employee’s engagement are: the quality of the employee’s relationship with their immediate supervisor, the trust in the senior management of the company and the pride in the organisation they work for.

Operating managers need to be trained in topics like empathy & listening skills. They must learn to engage in conversations at the operating level, so that employees feel they have been listened to even if all their suggestions have not been accepted. Companies must institutionalise formal & informal models for listening downwards.

Gallup Knowledge

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