It’s almost time for Halloween when all the ghosts and monsters come out of hiding to give folks a scare. Fortunately, it’s all in fun. But there is something that should be truly frightening to business leaders, and that’s research about employee engagement and motivation.
Gallup has measured the state of the workplace for more than twenty years. Their research digs deep into the motivating and demotivating factors for employees and sheds light on what leaders can do to create the conditions for attraction, retention, and engagement.
There’s definitely some good news in the data, but let’s start with the scary stuff.
10 Frightening Facts
- One-third of employees are engaged at work, while 16% are actively disengaged, and 51% are not engaged.
- More than half (51%) of employees are searching for new jobs or watching for job openings
- Only 21% of workers strongly agree that they are managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work
- Just 22% of employees strongly agree the leadership of their organization has a clear direction for the organization.
- Employees, who strongly agree that the leadership of their organization makes them enthusiastic about the future? 15%
- 13% of employees strongly agree the leadership of their organization communicates effectively with the rest of the organization.
- Three out of ten employees strongly agree that they have the tools and resources to do their work right.
- Only 30% of employees strongly agree that they have been praised for their work in the last 30 days.
- The same number (30%) strongly agree that their opinions seem to count at work.
- Just 12% of employees say their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees.
Why Poor Employee Engagement Results are Scary
Just on the surface that looks bad, but how important is it to have actively engaged employees? As long as they show up and do their jobs, what difference does it make? The data says a lot.
Work units in the top 25% in employee engagement outperformed the bottom 25% by:
- Profitability: 22%
- Productivity: 21%
- Customer Ratings: 10%
- Turnover 65% (In Low Turnover Organizations)
- Shrinkage 28%
- Absenteeism 35%
- Safety Incidents: 48%
- Patient Safety Incidents: 41%
- Quality Defects; 41%
Now that we’ve got all of the spooky stuff on the table, let’s get to the good news. What employees need to become engaged is relatively straightforward.
People Like Treats, They Need Purpose and Respect
Gallup has uncovered 12 elements that have been repeatedly shown to predict which employees will be highly productive. They are:
- I know what is expected of me at work.
- I have the materials and equipment I need to do my job right.
- At work, I have the ability to do what I do best every day.
- In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
- My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
- At work, my opinions seem to count.
- The mission or purpose of the company makes me feel like my job is important.
- My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
- I have a best friend at work.
- In the last six months, someone has talked to me about my progress.
- This year, I have had the opportunity to learn and grow.
If you think about each of these elements, it becomes clear why employees thrive when there is a culture that values continuous improvement, especially in those that recognize that every employee deserves respect and has something unique to contribute.
Nightmare of Dream?
The data tells us two important things. Employee engagement is a crucial element of success, and most organizations aren’t doing a very good job of it. That’s terrible news for leaders who aren’t ready to give up old-fashioned top-down thinking. It’s excellent news for those who want to unleash the power of human potential. They will easily outperform the competition.
So, while you enjoy the office costume or pumpkin carving contest, keep in mind that employee engagement is more fundamental than perks or parties. When employees have a purpose and feel respected, they don’t just become happier; they become more productive.