It’s no secret that employee engagement is low. Most of us have (repeatedly) heard the Gallup research that just over 30% of employees are engaged at work. Another 50% are “not engaged.” Said differently, 50% of employees are simply trading hours for dollars – workers give their company a few hours each day and, in return, the company gives the workers a few dollars. While these “unengaged” workers aren’t necessarily dragging your company down, they are preventing your organization from reaching its true potential.
That last 20%? These “actively disengaged” workers are not only dragging your company down, they are doing so with energy! As one employee engagement video depicts, these workers are drilling holes in the bottom of the boat as they try to sink the organization, taking all of their workers down with them.
Gallup’s most amazing statistic, though, is not the percentage of unengaged and actively disengaged employees. It’s that these figures haven’t changed in 15 years!
Why is this? We’ve been talking about engagement for years yet the needle has barely budged. I think it’s because many organizations have yet to truly address the issue. It’s easy to talk about employee engagement. And it’s easy to check employee engagement with pulse surveys.
But actually moving the engagement needle? That’s the hard part. That takes exhaustive, consistent, aggressive, deliberate, fanatical effort (click here to read a PCC blog about these culture words). Of course, some organizations put this kind of effort behind their employee engagement and culture efforts. As a result, many of these companies make some sort of Top 100 or Best Places To Work list. Unfortunately, there are many more organizations that stop at the employee survey or think throwing a regular pizza party is enough to develop satisfied, engaged employees.
In the Fast Company article titled “The War For Talent Is Over, And Everyone Lost,” authors Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Adam Yearsley state, “Of course, many workers excel in their jobs and make pivotal contributions to their organizations. But for every one employee who does, there are many more who are underemployed, underperforming, and just plain miserable at work.”
But is employee engagement really that big of a deal? Even with miserable employees, many companies not on a Best Workplace list seem to grow and make money. But could they make more money? Will they be able to replace the miserable employees who leave with new, excited employees (who at some point will most likely become miserable)? Can they keep up with their competition? Most importantly, what are their long-term prospects for success?
Another Gallup study can help us here. According to their research, organizations with high employee engagement enjoy:
Gallup’s study along with countless others paint a very clear picture – employee engagement is critical for success. Yes, many companies do fine with unimpressive employee engagement scores. But who thinks “fine” is acceptable? Certainly not a CEO or a corporate shareholder. And what about employees themselves? Would they rather work for a fine company or an outstanding one? Of course, the answer is obvious.
With such clear evidence about the importance of highly engaged workforces, it’s shocking that more companies don’t attack this area with intensity. With flat engagement scores for the last 15 years, it’s clear that most organizations haven’t moved beyond the “blah blah blah” of employee engagement.
So how do you actually move that engagement needle? We’ll answer that question in PCC’s next blog. Until then, let us know what you think of employee engagement. Are you engaged? Does your company “attack” engagement or simply pay lip service to this idea? Join the discussion!
Darren K. Ford
I've enjoyed a great career. Worked in many different industries with great coworkers and customers. I talk to a lot of people while drinking a lot of coffee. I read constantly. From all of this, I have much to say.