Employee engagement is a good news/bad news proposition.
On the bright side, employee engagement is at its highest level since 2000, and overall employee engagement was up 2 percent from 2013 to 2014, per a January 2015 Gallup poll. Overall, 31.5 percent of U.S. employees are engaged at work. This is a good statistic, but only in the “sort of” sense.
There’s also bad news. The percentage of employees that Gallup categorized as “not engaged” remained flat. It now sits at 51 percent, more than half of the U.S. workforce. For “actively disengaged employees,” it’s 17.5 percent.
Combined, that’s a mind-numbing 68.5 percent of employees who are apathetic, unenthusiastic, and not committed to the company. Essentially, they punch the clock, count down the hours, and collect their paycheck.
In the United States, we have a real problem with disengaged employees. But are disengaged employees the issue, or are they a symptom of a larger problem?
Linking Workplace Trust to Employee Engagement
Maritz Research recently polled a sampling of U.S. employees and found a prevalent theme: lack of trust in company management. The study revealed that only 7 percent of respondents “strongly agree they trust senior leaders to look out for their best interests.” Additionally, only 11 percent “strongly agree their managers show consistency between their words and actions.”
Yet the same study found that among those who had a strong trust in management, nearly two-thirds would be “happy to spend the rest of their career with their present company.” This is a big deal; employee retention saves a lot of time and money. When you don’t have to continually find and train new employees, you can use those recovered resources to develop and enhance existing employees, leading to more loyalty to the company and an even higher level of employee engagement.
What does all this mean for managers?
- Company Credibility. To start, they need to realize that the credibility of the company and senior management is driven largely by the quality of the relationships that employees have with their direct supervisors. You can have all the pizza parties, stock option plans, employee awards, fancy software packages, and casual Fridays you want, but true employee engagement isn’t an activity. It’s a deeply felt emotion in the heart of each employee.
- Employees-First Policy. Managers also need to put employees first. As Zig Ziglar said, “To get what you want in life, you must first help others get what they want.” In order to help every one of their employees be engaged, motivated, and productive, managers must truly care about the work their employees are doing and their happiness with the company.
Linking Employee Engagement to World-Class Organizations
The results will mean success for the employee, success for management, and ultimately, success for the company. Employee engagement is what makes the difference between an average organization and a world-class organization.
In a world-class organization, employees are invested in the success of the company. They’re the ones who will work hard to make sure your clients, guests, and customers are happy. Companies with world class engagement, compared with companies with disengaged employees, experience:
- increased productivity
- increased profitability
- fewer safety incidents
- lower absenteeism
- significantly higher growth rates.
That means more money to the company’s bottom line. Less waste, more profits!