Employee engagement and what to do about it is a critical global business initiative in 2016. From a 2103 Gallup report stating that, “Currently, 30% of the U.S. workforce is engaged in their work, and the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is roughly 2-to-1, meaning that the vast majority of U.S. workers (70%) are not reaching their full potential”; to a 2015 Gallup report stating that: “Less than one-third (31.5%) of U.S. workers were engaged in their jobs in 2014,” to a 2016 Global Human Capital report from Deloitte University Press confirming that “After three years of struggling to drive employee engagement and retention, improve leadership, and build a meaningful culture, executives see a need to redesign the organization itself, with 92 percent of survey participants rating this as a critical priority,” it is clear that employees are disengaged at record numbers, which definitively affects job performance and outcomes.
So, what is an engaged employee and are there clear indicators of what better employee engagement looks like? Generally, employees need the following to feel engaged:
- A sense of purpose and happiness
- A belief in potential for growth, advancement, and professional development
- A knowing that they are cared about, cared for, supported, and respected
- A feeling of value and of being “part of the team” that helps to make the organization successful
These qualities go beyond the traditional metrics of good pay and two-weeks time off —they are feelings, beliefs, and strong desires to know what the organizational goals are, how they are personally a part of making them happen, and how they can grow as individuals and professionals.
What can an organization do to help employees to be more engaged? Employee engagement has left the arenas of perks and pep rallies and is now about creating an organization where people want to work. “The task around engagement, then, is not simply to have an engagement index but rather the far broader and more significant challenge of building an ‘irresistible organization.’” (DPU Global Human Capital Trends 2016) Companies now compete to win “best place to work” and are beginning to offer more flexible and boosted benefits, routine coaching and mentoring, an increased focus on employee health and well-being, job redesign, and in creating new positions such as a Listening Officer. The solution for creating engaged employees is in the creation of engagement-supportive environments.
Gallup also suggests that employee engagement remains unchanged if it remains unmanaged. So, putting our proverbial “heads in the sand” about this issue can cause the situation, of course, to digress and unravel. Organizations are now creating committees, task forces, or “tribes” to work to collectively in order to formulate what an ideal work environment looks like. As each company or organization is unique, the needs and requests of the constituents differ. Discovering what a more engaging environment consists of can be considered a shared responsibility — as the actors and members of the organization communicate and collaborate with management, HR, etc., they can effectively and comprehensively devise solutions that create positive change.
Employee engagement is a top concern for 2016 with 78% of organizational leaders rating it as one of their top concerns. If we take a look at what constitutes an engaged employee, make a decision to become a great place to work, and create task forces to discover collective solutions, we are well on our way to consciously addressing and resolving engagement issues in our own organizations.
Gallup Poll report from 2013, State of The American Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders
Majority of U.S. Employees Not Engaged Despite Gains in 2014. January 2015
Global Human Capital Trends 2016. The New Organization: Different by design