Know the dirty little secret of employee engagement and use this insight to truly value your people!
If you are a supervisor of front-line employees, a middle manager or operating in the C-Suite, it’s tough sledding.
An overwhelming percentage of today’s workers are not engaged in the work they do. On a global level, just 15% of the overall working population identify themselves as actively engaged in their work. In the U.S., that figure climbs to just under one-third.
Managers spend countless hours and resources trying to re-energize their people, recapture their enthusiasm and better engage them in their work.
In point of fact, for the majority of managers, those efforts are misplaced.
In a survey done by Blessing White, only 47% of the senior leaders surveyed were fully engaged in their work. Think about that for a minute. An employee has a better than even chance that the senior leader on her team will NOT be engaged in her work.
Here’s the dirty little secret for managers that want to engage their people: For your people to be engaged, you need to be engaged – not talking the talk engaged, but walking the talk engaged. That means transforming today’s workplaces requires that managers transform themselves first.
In their book, It’s the Manager, Gallup recently published the findings of their extensive research into effective management practice. Their findings were categorical and conclusive: “70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by … the manager.”
Gallup is so sure of this finding that they call it their “single most profound, distinct, and clarifying finding” in the 80-year history of their organization.
The message is clear and unequivocal: managers, supervisors and leaders have the responsibility for creating the conditions that result in people being engaged.
One way is to actively and genuinely value your people. Valuing your people means treating them like the assets they are by investing in them, and not primarily treating them as costs that need to be controlled.
Investment in people takes many forms, but unlike investments in capital assets, they don’t have to be expensive. In fact, the most effective means of valuing people costs very little.
Take recognition for example. We know that the number one form of recognition sought by employees is a handwritten note from their immediate supervisor showing genuine and specific appreciation for something well done.
Simple, right? Costs next to nothing. I can buy 100 cards for less than $10. Yet employees consistently tell us that their bosses do little to specifically and genuinely recognize their contributions.
So, if you’re a manager, it’s up to you. If you want a productive workplace where your people are growing, developing and happy … you are the answer.
If you want a workplace that attracts and retains the best talent … you are the answer.
If you want people to be engaged in their work and your organization to be profitable … you are the answer.
If you want your people to be your competitive advantage … well, you get the idea.
Valuing People starts with you.
Bill Scott is a trainer and consultant. He specializes in appreciative means of valuing people and making workplaces magnetic.
Sarah stretched out languidly, the last vestiges of the best dream ever slowly fading away. She opened one eye and looked at the clock. It was 7:35 a.m.! What happened? She must have slept through the alarm. Now she only had 15 minutes to get ready and get to work!
Sarah quickly threw the covers back and ran for the shower. She turned on the taps and ran back to her closet to select clothes for the day while waiting for the water to heat up.
Sarah grabbed a shower cap, jumped into the shower and began to feverishly scrub herself. “This has got to be the quickest shower ever,” she thought to herself. “I don’t want to be late.”
Sarah got out, reached for a towel and began drying herself. Five minutes later she was in the kitchen, a piece of toast with peanut butter in her hand and a glass of orange juice on the counter.
Five minutes after that Sarah was grabbing her bag and car keys and headed for the door.
As she was locking her apartment door she looked up and saw Jerry her friend and neighbour taking out his trash.
“You seem to be in a hurry,” Jerry observed.
“I am,” Sarah replied. “I’m late for work.”
“Oh,” Jerry said, a puzzled look crossing his face. “I didn’t know you worked on Saturday.”
Sarah’s mouth dropped open in shock. That’s why the alarm didn’t ring this morning! Sarah turned and opened her door, the disappointment evident on her face. She didn’t get to go work today!
* * * * * * *
How often have you heard a story like this one in your organization? Once in a blue moon? Never? Not at all? For most people, that’s their reality.
Assuming a 40 hour work week, eight hours of sleep per night and a conservative two hours per day for getting ready for work as well as commuting to and from work, we spend 45% of our waking hours in service to the businesses and organizations we work in. That’s a significant junk of our life on a weekly basis. Surely we want that time to be at least somewhat enjoyable?
Workplaces are rarely magnetic – spaces where people can’t wait to go. In many instances, workplaces are barely tolerated by the employees who work there. There are exceptions to this generalization – Wegmans Foods Markets, Atlassian, Google, WL Gore and Kimpton Hotels are a few examples – but they are the exceptions.
For the most part, workers are dissatisfied with their jobs, feeling underappreciated and not working in their areas of strength most of the time. The majority – 55% to be exact – are simply putting in the time required to claim their pay cheque.
Worse, 17% of any given workforce is actively disengaged from their work. That means that only 28% of an average team is actively engaged in the company’s work. And these figures have remained constant for years.
Think about that. Only three out of 10 members on a team are actively engaged in the work of their organization. If we want to increase productivity, perhaps we should find ways to more actively engage the people that are working with us. We need to find ways to make Sarah’s reaction the norm instead of the exception.
How do we exchange barely tolerable workplaces for ones where we realize our potential? From one where we feel trapped and exploited to one where we feel appreciated and valued? From one where managers feel helpless, hopeless, frustrated and angry to one where they feel resilient buoyant, invigorated and excited?
In the coming weeks, I’m going to share some ideas. Hopefully they help you in creating magnetic workplaces for you and your people.