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Employee Engagement Scores Aren’t Getting Better – Gallup

Employee EngagementCompanies, large and small, simply aren’t prioritizing employee engagement and it is costing them.

How many companies develop a cut-throat, high pressure culture believing it will lead to financial success?  A recent article in the Harvard Business Review tackles this very topic, showcasing proof that positive workplace cultures foster engagement. No matter how many perks, free lunches, and gym memberships you give employees, if your environment is stressful and negative you will not have an engaged workforce.

The article says plainly: “engagement in work — which is associated with feeling valued, secure, supported, and respected — is generally negatively associated with a high-stress, cut-throat culture.”

Because I work with organizations to measure employee engagement and then help them set engagement plans in motion, I am not surprised by this. Positive cultures are engaging.

I see companies that want to get the boost in numbers associated with engagement, so they do an engagement survey. Unfortunately, too many of these companies don’t undertake the process of rolling out the results, engaging employees in a dialogue about the culture, and providing input on how to change the culture. Some companies are even proud of their negative cut-throat cultures!

Why Is Employee Engagement Important?

The HBR article references studies by the Queens School of Business and Gallup, which reveal that disengaged workers have:

  • 37% higher absenteeism
  • 49% more accidents
  • 60% more errors and defects

Conversely, organizations with the most engaged employees achieve:

  • 15% greater employee productivity
  • 65% greater share-price increase
  • Up to 30% greater customer satisfaction levels
  • 26% less employee turnover
  • 20% less absenteeism
  • 100% more unsolicited employment applications (people want to work there!)

Why, then, are even very big companies not making this a strategic priority to correct? As I mentioned above, some companies are measuring engagement but not taking the necessary actions to improve!

An article in the Toronto Star about CBC – “CBC workplace is psychologically unhealthy, internal poll by Gallup shows” – is a good example of this. The CBC did a survey in August and by December they still hadn’t rolled the results out to every team in the company. 

What Is the Message to Employees when Management Doesn’t Take Action on Employee Engagement Surveys?

Here are a few suggested messages employees may think management is sending:

  • My opinions don’t really matter.
  • The results must have been really bad; otherwise they would be out here telling us all about them.
  • Looks like this was just an exercise in putting up a smokescreen to deflect the issues we are facing and keep the Board and others at bay.
  • Management never really intended to make any changes – they just did this to shut us up.

I could come up with more, but the real key is that we need to look at the relationship between the leader and their direct reports.  Great leaders (as cited by Gallup) are:

  • Motivators
  • Assertive
  • Accountable
  • Relationship builders
  • Decision makers

But, warns Gallup, fewer than 30% of people have the raw tools to master all five of these elements.  You must make sure your hiring process and your promotion of internal candidates measures for these core personality traits.

Finally, most importantly – organizations that want to reap the rewards of engaged employees
need to:

  1. Conduct employee engagement surveys (this is not a nice-to-have if you want productive, high performance work cultures!).
  2. Share the survey results with employees and involve them in the process (in fact, this step itself actually improves employee engagement).
  3. Follow through on the survey and take real action on the issues identified.

It’s not difficult! Do the survey. Involve your employees. Follow through.

Want to engage employees?  Measuring is the first step on the journey toward engagement and productive cultures. Schedule a complimentary consultation with us to discuss your specific organization’s needs.

Start engaging your employees right away. Get access to my FREE cheatsheet for improving employee engagement in just 10 minutes!

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Written by Dwight Lacey

Dwight Lacey

Dwight is the President at Workplace Engagement Insights. He leads Workplace Engagement Insights with a clear understanding of the latest employee engagement research, survey best practices, and leadership styles that create successful businesses.

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