Why Lack of Engagement Matters, Seriously
This statistic-that a mere 1/3 of all workers in the U.S. are engaged – is OLD NEWS, to put it mildly. Most executives and H.R. folks have come to accept the idea that a shocking 67.5% of employees are either not engaged at work or are actively disengaged at work. In fact, I have been pointedly asked why we should even bother to keep measuring engagement, since lack of engagement seems to be the norm. There are a number of reasons why we need to keep measuring engagement. First and foremost, engagement scores are similar to blood work that is assessed during an annual medical check-up: it tells you what’s really going on – are you healthy or not?
Below are three scenarios that explain what engagement, lack of engagement, and disengagement look like in an organization.
Scenario 1: An employee drives to work and parks in the designated employee parking lot. As the employee walks toward the office building, she notices that there is an empty fast-food bag that has just missed the trash receptacle. The employee thinks, “Oh shoot, someone missed the trash bin. I’ll put the bag in the trash as I walk into the building.”
This employee is engaged at work. Unfortunately, only 33% of the workforce (according to Gallup) fits into this high-potential, high-energy, committed group.1
Scenario 2: An employee drives to work and parks in the designated employee parking lot. As the employee walks toward the office building, she notices that there is an empty fast-food bag that has just missed the trash receptacle. The employee thinks, “Oh shoot, someone missed the trash bin. I’m sure the facility and maintenance people will be around soon to get it.”
Trash pick-up is not is her job description, so she does not consider her inaction to show a lack of dedication. Her thought is “That trash is not my problem.” This employee is not engaged. Gallup’s research shows that nearly half of all employees, 49%, are not engaged at work. Employees who are not engaged do the minimum required of them at work.
Scenario 3: An employee drives to work and parks in the designated employee parking lot. As the employee walks toward the office building, she notices that there is a trash receptacle where she can place her now-empty fast food bag. She attempts to make the “bucket,” but her empty bag lands just a foot away from the bin. The employee thinks, “Oh shoot, I missed the trash bin. Just my luck. Is it Friday yet?”
This employee is actively disengaged. A sobering 18% of all workers are actively disengaged at work. Workers like the one described here are potential loose cannons at work because they can drag others down with them. Actively disengaged employees are unhappy, and they demonstrate this unhappiness in their actions, words, and non-verbal communications, all-the-while bringing down the spirits of their colleagues.
In sum, engagement is a vital sign of organizational health, just as blood work is a critical piece of physical health. Should you stop measuring your blood sugars just because you consistently see that you are pre-diabetic? NO! A more thoughtful solution would be to try a new medicine or a new eating plan to positively impact the less-than-ideal results.
The same goes with measuring engagement. If your engagement scores are stuck at the same level year after year, it makes little sense to stop measuring the problem. Instead, make positive changes to impact the issue.
1 Gallup, Inc. “Employee Experience vs. Engagement: What’s the Difference?” Gallup.com, 12 Oct. 2018, www.gallup.com/workplace/243578/employee-experience-engagement-difference.aspx.
To learn more about how and why to build an engaged workplace, read Sarah Robinson’s soon to be launched book “FRESH Leadership: 5 Skills that Will Transform You and Your Team.” A pre-order link will be available soon.
Below are comments from early readers and reviewers.
I am an owner of a small business and I struggle with habits of being an uninspiring leader…focusing too much on creating company sales and not enough on improving fulfillment and culture. FRESH Leadership really hits the mark on addressing these and other workplace challenges, but more importantly gives the tools to implement positive change right away that can be sustainable. I will be buying copies of Sarah’s book for our management team.
Spohn Associates, Inc.
What a FRESH perspective on leadership and teamwork! This book is chock-full of smart research and timely footnotes to dig even deeper. Written clearly with street smart quotes and case studies that inspire every leader! Every CEO and manager should have their copy!
Author of Let’s Talk Strengths
FRESH Leadership beautifully blends organizational behavior research and leadership common sense to guide new and old leaders alike on a brand new path. This book is a fast read, but don’t forget your hi-lighter which any leader worth their salt will have in-hand. I have already taken some of my highlighted sections and then transferred them to notes for this week’s meeting agenda. Sarah’s book is both insightful and practical. A winner.
National Training Manager
H2O at Home
Sarah is a Winner’s Coach. And this how she does it. This book is what managers and leaders need to know today. Actionable strategies, insights, and information to help you lead yourself and your teams to higher levels of success. If you want to win in the market place today, Sarah is your guide. This book delivers!!
Certified GALLUP® Clifton StrengthsFinder Coach
Thank you, Sarah Robinson, for reminding me that everyone is some type of leader in their professional lives and private family lives. FRESH Leadership reminded me that we have so much influence on those we interact with. I have many take- a-ways from reading Sarah’s book and it has already helped me to improve my team. FRESH Leadership is a great tool for leaders and team members who strive to satisfy customers, have fun with friends as work, and model important work-life balance behaviors.