ACHANGE Consulting

The Disengaged Employee

The Evidence

The results of the latest annual Kelly Global Workforce Index survey, shows that:

  • Only half of the staff are committed to their current job;
  • 81% are planning to search for another job in next 12 months;
  • Just 35% of workers feel valued by their employer, or
  • Gain any real sense of meaning from their work

Strikingly, the ability to ‘excel or develop’ is identified by 77% of employees as the key to providing a sense of meaning. One would think that employers and staff would be aligned on this but clearly not in many cases.

A survey last year by Leadership IQ in the USfound that 69% of staff and 30% of executives were unengaged. They also found that almost 80% of executives believed that their employees were not fully engaged and interestingly 72% admitted they were not giving 100%.

What are the Most Successful Companies doing to Engage Staff ?

It was not really surprising to read that Google was voted the best Fortune company to work in. However, examining the nine companies that followed Google in the top 10 slots they come from a number of different industries including healthcare, manufacturing, retail and financial. So what might these companies be doing to keep their staff happy and engaged.  The leading article in the Jan-Feb 2012 Harvard Business Review gives us some ideas here:

  • Sharing Information – it is significant that Google when discussing its best workplace spot spoke about the regular updates that are provided to all staff in the company and the encouragement to question executives.
  • Provide Decision-Making Discretion – Employees at every level are energized by being empowered to make decisions that affect their work. This gives them a greater sense of control, more say in how things get done, and more opportunities for learning.
  • Ensuring a Culture of Respect – It is not a coincidence that Google have a Chief Culture Office (CCO), as they recognize the central role that culture plays in the success of a company and the well-being of its staff. HBR cites research which showed that 50% of employees that experienced uncivil behaviour at work decreased their working effort. More than a third deliberately decreased the quality of their work.
  • Offering Meaningful Performance Feedback – Too often performance feedback just means the annual rushed appraisal process which, at best, is meaningless and, at worst, is damaging.  Instead what is required is an ongoing process and discussion with employees involving real objective setting and constant review and feedback. .

As the HBR article states in its opening headline:

“ If you give your employees the opportunity to learn and grow, they’ll thrive – and so will your organization.“

Contrast this with the fact that in a recent Accenture survey they found that 9 out of 10 European businesses were cutting their training and skills budget.

Rather than just cutting costs in a race to the bottom senior executives need to also consider the payback from investing in developing their staff even in these tough times. They may be pleasantly surprised in the return they get.



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