Global employee engagement levels are at an all time low. The figures in Australia are even more damning. As it stands, organisations are failing to capitalize on what is a bountiful resource. Executives must pick up the slack to ensure their team members are giving all they can – for both themselves and their employer.
Employee engagement matters. That much is patently clear. Research suggests that organisations with higher levels of engagement have better retention, better productivity, better absenteeism and better profitability than those organisations where employees do not feel connected to their work and workplace.
Really though, you don’t need statistics and experiments to understand this. From a commonsense viewpoint, it is obvious that engaged employees are more useful. Picture two organisations. In one, the employees are made to feel that they are vital cogs in the running of a machine. Individuals are recognized and heard. The work is as much the employee’s project as it is the CEO’s. These employees come to work because they want to contribute to this collaboration. In the other organization, the employees feel disconnected from the high-ups. They are contracted for their labour – not their ideas and personality. They come in at 9am because they must. They leave at 5pm because it’s the earliest they can.
Which employees are going to do the most for their organization?
These benefits cast recent figures on global levels of engagement in an even darker light. The 2019 ADP report found that only 15.9% of workers globally are engaged, which is a decrease of .3% from the numbers recorded in 2015. More shockingly, this is not a problem germane to countries which put far less emphasis on HR than Australia does. In 2019, only 16% of Australian employees were fully engaged.
The implications of this are massive. Australian organisations are being stunted. They have made an investment and the investment is not paying off. A disengaged worker is not giving you all he or she has to offer.
It is an executive’s role to lead their organization in a way that maximises its potential for growth. This often involves complicated business plans and radical restructuring. Even though, in most situations, executives are able to sniff out even the slightest of opportunities and capitalise, these engagement statistics suggest executives are failing to give due weight to the opportunities sitting right in front of them, in their offices.
Some argue that this is not an executive’s responsibility. They suggest that it is an employee’s own responsibility to find an element of their work that engages them. Motivation, it is argued, is subjective.
Research says the opposite. It all comes down to the office environment. This is clear from the 2019 ADP report, “Teams + Trust are the Keys to Engagement.”
Workers who are on a team are 2.3 times more likely to be engaged. When employees are faced with individual tasks, they often feel disconnected from the wider organization. They don’t feel as if they are working towards a tangible benefit because their tasks are micro-level and seem insignificant. By teaming employees up and getting them to work towards a larger project, you create a sense that everyone is involved in something bigger. Moreover, you create a system of accountability where workers feel as if there are others relying on them to do their best.
Trust is also vital. A team member is 12 times more likely to be fully engaged when they trust the person in charge of them. Trust facilitates better communication, meaning that employees will feel able to approach you with both requests for clarification and new ideas, both of which are intimately connected with improved performance. Trust brings with it a sense of equality. It empowers workers and makes them feel valued. This empowerment is, naturally, linked with engagement.
Executives are faced with a multifaceted problem when it comes to engagement. Not only must they ensure they get the most out of themselves, but they must embed their employees within the organization so that they feel as invested as executives do.
Their motivation should be yours. Create a culture that makes people want to work.