Not Just Some Fuzzy Initiative…May 24, 2023
Based on the stats we just looked at showing that an overwhelming majority of the workplace at-large isn’t actively engaged in “powerfully rowing toward their company goals,” the cost of disengaged employees should be fairly evident… Truth be told, I struggle to understand how any company can make it over the long haul with so few pulling the weight for so many! And that has to contribute to why so many companies don’t make it.
But I still get folks who question whether or not engagement is actually something tangible that show’s up on the bottom line; think back to the fellow I mentioned recently who committed on a LinkedIn article I shared on the topic suggesting that the idea was simply a fuzzy initiative driven by someone in HR that never yields results. Here’s what I’ll challenge you to consider: how many times have you been completely miserable in a position and still produced great results for months or years on end with no intention whatsoever of finding a new place to call home? I understand that someone with solid character will continue exceeding expectations even when they’re frustrated, that’s where the character part comes into play, but I also know those folks are quite likely to move on when given an opportunity!
Now compare that to your performance for the best leader you’ve ever worked with or for… I’d bet that you found a way to deliver more for them than even on your best day in the role where you were frustrated!
With that in mind, do you really believe engagement is some fuzzy initiative that never yields results? In an article from Harvard Business Review called Things They Do For Love, Leah Buchanan shared this:
“Company leaders won’t be surprised that employee engagement—the extent to which workers commit to something or someone in their organizations—influences performance and retention. But they may be surprised by how much engagement matters. Increased commitment can lead to a 57% improvement in discretionary effort—that is, employees’ willingness to exceed duty’s call. That greater effort produces, on average, a 20% individual performance improvement and an 87% reduction in the desire to pull up stakes, according to the Corporate Leadership Council, which surveyed more than 50,000 employees in more than 59 organizations worldwide.”
If we’re being honest with ourselves here, we can relate the increase in our discretionary effort and our overall individual productivity to the jobs we’ve had where we truly were bought into the leader we worked for. The impact those things have on an organization's profitability, especially when multiplied across a group of team members, can be huge! For now though, let’s just stick with what happens when disengagement is the norm, and who feels the pain…
Based on the numbers from Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workforce report, there are usually two more people rowing than there are trying to sink the boat. If those who are actively working to take on water go unchecked for any real length of time though, even being the minority, how do you think that will affect the 60 who are just along for the ride? That’s rhetorical… Sooner or later, and usually sooner, some of those 60 will fall in with that crowd. And as more and more of the team works to sink the boat, the rowers will either give up or get out.
The sixty, who have recently been dubbed “quiet quitters” by many sources, could be a tremendous resource for the organization but instead have been allowed (yes, allowed) to become a drain - on the entire team they’re a part of, the customers and clients the organization serves, those charged with leading, as well as every family member with any ties to this mess! So how fuzzy is it now? We’ll pick up next time but putting some dollar figures to all this before moving on to how effective leadership can indeed drive employee engagement…