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Been Engaged Lately?
By Valarie D. Willis

When two people become engaged, excitement fills the air, people smile and hug, everyone starts talking, and energy levels run high. In this context, engagement causes a lot of positive things to happen.

But when we think about workplace engagement, that picture quickly changes. Many people in the workplace show up feeling jilted rather than exuberant. The good news is that in a recent Gallup Poll study, the engagement levels are shifting in the workplace, but still the majority of people aren't engaged.

Gallup indicates that 59% of the workforce is disengaged, 14% of the workforce is actively disengaged and that a mere 27% are engaged. So what was the good news in those numbers? The number of people that are actively disengaged has decreased since the last published poll.

The bad news is that most work places have 3 out of 5 disengaged workers. According to Gallup, these people show up like sleepwalkers on the job. Disengagement directly impacts productivity as well as how customers are viewed and treated.

Employee engagement and happiness is not a "soft" issue. Disengaged employees create costly turnover in organizations. You can reduce that drain by understanding what makes them happy and keeps them engaged.

"Too many people feel insecure, threatened and unappreciated in their jobs," according to Roger Lewin in the book, The SOUL AT WORK. Add this thought to the fact that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the separation rate averages about 36.9%, but goes as high as 70% in some industries.

Insecurity and lack of appreciation seems to create rampant corporate divorce. While all separations can't be prevented, I suspect that these numbers could be substantially reduced by helping our employees become more engaged.

In my work, I have seen organizations that were lethargic, disengaged, and unhappy - conditions that yield people working well below their potential. Who is at fault? Was it theirs or was it leadership's fault? My view is that leadership is responsible for creating the environment and tapping into people's potential.

When leadership constantly focuses on the negative events that occur and fails to acknowledge persons for their contributions, disengagement sets in.

Fortunately, disengaged employees can become engaged if leaders:

  • a. Listen to their concerns
  • b. Solicit their input on key changes
  • c. Are open and honest with their communication
  • d. Set expectations and be sure that people adhere to them with consistency
  • e. Deal with issues promptly and fairly
  • f. Make people feel valued and appreciated
  • g. Create "down time" for people to re-energize
  • h. Are happy
In a recent Gallup article, "Feeling Good Matters in the Workplace", it was noted that "happy employees are better equipped to handle workplace relationships, stress, and change," according to the latest national Gallup Management Journal survey. "Companies that understand this and help employees improve their well-being, can boost their productivity."

The organization that recognizes people for their full worth will find their people want to come to work and do something that is compelling, interesting, exciting and meaningful, no matter what their jobs are. Leaders are called to honor all the work that is being done. This means that there are no meaningless jobs and, no matter where you are in the organization, your work is valued.

Organizational engagement starts with leadership and permeates its way through the organization. Individual contributors are also responsible for how engaged they are or are not in the workplace.

Let me hear from you as to how you stay engaged at work and what makes you become disengaged. Until then, get engaged to something!

Used with permission from The Point

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