You’ve all seen the statistics about the importance of employee engagement and having a great workplace culture, right? There are real costs involved for organizations that suffer from poor engagement and low culture. But what does it really mean in terms of dollars and cents? And, more importantly, beyond the tangible costs, why does it matter?
In a Gallup survey across 140 countries, employees were classified into one of three engagement categories – engaged, not engaged, or disengaged. Of the three categories, organizations prefer employees in the engaged category – these are employees whose passion and commitment bring innovation and progress, driving the organization forward. Of the other two categories, it’s hard to determine which is the lesser of two evils. Not engaged employees are “phoning it in” and are putting in their time, but not actively contributing above and beyond the minimum required. Actively Disengaged employees are, essentially, unhappy, and busy acting out their unhappiness in the workplace through toxic and undermining behaviors. When pictured as a system, the combined force of these three groups is one of a few steps forward (engaged) followed by a few steps (or more) back (not engaged or actively disengaged). How are companies to successfully generate momentum in the workplace with more engaged employees that can counteract the combined detrimental effect of the combo of not engaged and actively disengaged employees?
It’s an uphill climb. In the research, Gallup found 87 percent of workers worldwide and 70 percent of employees in the U.S. fall into the not engaged or actively disengaged employee categories. That means, sadly, that only 30 percent of U.S. workers are passionate about, and committed to, their companies. The rest of your workforce isn’t there.
To increase the sense of urgency in creating whole, connected, and coherent organizations with a higher proportion of engaged employees, consider the actual costs. Beyond loss of top talent, poor culture, and difficulty accomplishing goals, actively disengaged employees cost the US $450 billion to $550 billion per year. Yes, that’s only the actively disengaged.
So, what’s a concerned company wanting to be awesome and filled with happy employees to do? The true answer to this question is a much longer conversation and deeper investment in unpacking where your culture and employees are today. But, the short answer is that there are a few critical things you can focus on to get the ball moving in the right direction:
First, focus (heavily and intentionally) on talent. Hiring the right people for the right jobs, and ensuring you are rewarding and retaining your top talent will make huge strides in creating a predominantly engaged workforce. Next, nurture them! Giving your cherished employees opportunities for growth and autonomy go further than monetary rewards in fostering your employee’s passion and commitment. Finally, in combo with hiring smart and growing employees, care for them as whole people. Valuing your team as fellow humans and providing for their needs across all aspects of who they are – in body, mind, emotion, and purpose – creates a bond between employees and their organizations. If you do nothing else, focusing on these three components will improve your employees experience and engagement with your company – I promise! Good luck, and may the odds of having a highly engaged, passionate, and committed workplace be always in your favor.