An article by Gallop delivered findings from their most recent Employment Survey that quantified what most of us know: if people have bought in to what you do, not only do they perform better but it directly impacts bottom line outcomes.
You can have a look at the Gallop report here and download the full report from their site. It makes good reading and it is always nice to have numbers that evidence the findings. Their survey reportedly polled nearly 1.4 million people. Alarmingly, it finds that 70% of workers surveyed are either ‘not engaged’ or ‘actively disengaged’ and that is impacting your business’s ability to maximise its profit potential, both directly and indirectly.
Without wishing to reproduce Gallop’s entire report it is interesting to note that it is the intangibles that really come to the fore when talking about employee engagement, far more than pay and perks. It is also evident that one-size absolutely does not fit all. Different age groups, different genders and different cognitive abilities all impact what it means to be engaged.
There are some constants though. Often organisational leaders and managers question the ‘soft skills’ programs and approaches, placing their emphasis on hard and tangible skills in both their training programs and their recruitment strategies. Yet it is intangibles that appear to be the driving force behind employee engagement.
It turns out what we instinctively know deep down is true and correct about high performing workplaces.
They tend to:
- be organisations that employ people for their attitude, not just their education
- create environments that help people discover their strengths and give them tasks that reinforce and build on those strengths
- focus on and communicate what the organisation stands for and can clearly describe and engender the value add it provides for its clients
- create a ‘healthy’ and supportive workplace that values individuals.
The report seems to focus on the responsibilities of employers though. Whilst this is important it is only one half of the equation. In a world that values both people and organisations that get on the front foot and ‘show leadership’ it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure leadership happens.
Certainly, there are factors that are under the control of management and executives in an organisation but a large part of that responsibility has to be taken up by individuals, regardless of where they sit in the organisational structure.
A rest room that is dirty and lacking in basic commodities can be just as demoralising as a duplicitous manager or a culture of blame. Whilst it is not a band aid or a cure all, the starting point for an organisation is the Mission Statement and a set of Values that is not only widely communicated and understood, but is central to every activity an organisation conducts, right down to the kitchen and the rest rooms.
Even if a Mission Statement exists, who was involved in creating it, how is it communicated, and what part does it play in day-to-day decision making? Just having one does not count and certainly does nothing for the bottom line.
Going a step further, as an individual, how committed are you to your personal mission statement and how do you apply it to your workplace and in support of the company mission, vision and values? Once again, Mission, Vision, Values is not the exclusive domain of organisations.
Engagement starts with belief, and an alignment of personal and organisational values. How engaged can anyone be if those do not meet at least in part? The small things are the big things.
Having one strategy to fit all, employing only the smartest people rather than striving for diversity, and then giving your people tasks that neither fit their actual skills and strengths nor their passions is the fastest way to disillusion and disengagement.
Remember, a person’s documented education is often not an indicator of their strengths and passion. Building a business that maximises its potential needs to focus on maximising its people at least as much as it is about maximising its profits, if not more.
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