The workforce of today has different expectations. They are looking for fair rewards, flexibility, and engaging work. In essence, they are looking to be treated as adults.
—Allison Maitland and Peter Thomson, Future Work
By now, almost everyone in business is familiar with Gallup’s stats on engagement: 13 percent of employees are highly engaged, with the remaining 87 percent either not engaged, indifferent, or actively disengaged. However, an organizational survey by Accor Services reports that while 90 percent of respondents believe that employee engagement is critical to success, only 25 percent have a strategy to address this critical human capital issue.
Why Is Employee Engagement So Important?
Gallup estimates that employee disengagement costs organizations an estimated $450 to $550 billion a year. Meanwhile, Gallup’s survey of 1.4 million employees found that teams scoring in the top 25 percent of respondents for engagement experience several benefits:
- lower turnover; 65 percent
- fewer safety incidents; 48 percent
- lower absenteeism; 37 percent
- higher productivity; 21 percent
- higher customer metrics; 10 percent.
More importantly, during difficult times, a highly engaged workforce positions the organization for success. External factors like the recent economic downtown have less impact on organizations with an engaged workforce. Engagement enables growth and profit in either a positive or negative business climate.
What Can Organizations Do to Increase Engagement?
To be proactive about increasing employee engagement, organizational leaders must become the driving force—making engagement a business and strategic imperative. Effective leader-employee relationships, regardless of reporting structure or location, will help build a highly satisfied and engaged workforce. Indeed, organizations in the 21st century will need to transition from top-down hierarchies to nimble organizations that can adapt and change quickly with open and transparent communications. This way, every employee is in the know. Think Zappos, Netflix, Pandora, Amazon, Uber, and Facebook, among others.
Bottom line: In order to maximize their efforts on employee engagement, successful businesses will need to evolve from an organization-centric to a people-centric mentality. In other words, they must evolve from hierarchical, command-and-control structures to trust-based, open networks and relationships. This paradigm shift will help organizations reinvent themselves and create an engaging workplace. In fact, an interesting positive cycle will occur: proactive, transparent leadership leads to engaged workers, which in turn leads to improved customer service and loyalty, which in turn translates to a positive bottom line. Now, that’s a great place to work.
To discuss more human capital trends and challenges, join me at ATD 2015 International Conference & Exposition for my session W304 - The Perfect Storm: Human Capital Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century.