Whatever Else You Do, It’s About the People

Unsurprisingly, according to Gallup, employee engagement levels in early 2022 have fallen to less than a third of all employees, with nearly one fifth actively disengaged. Gallup also found an eight-point decline in the percentage of employees who are extremely satisfied with their organization as a place to work and an even sharper drop in the number of employees who believe their employer cares about their wellbeing.

The areas of engagement reflecting the greatest declines relate to having clear expectations, the tools to do the job, the opportunity to focus on what they do best, and a connection to their organization’s purpose.

On the other hand, Gallup also identified a number of organizations whose employee engagement is more than double the national average, so called “exceptional workplaces.”

What separates organizations who are losing employee commitment from those that are excelling? As is often the case, it is not rocket science, but it does take a clear, dedicated approach on the part of leadership.

Excelling organizations:

  1. Make decisions, and especially difficult decisions, based on values rather than short term wins, convenience, fear, etc. As such, employees know what to expect and what their employers’ stand for.
  2. Embrace flexible work environments based on how that flexibility will directly benefit employees.
  3. Prioritize employee wellbeing and focus on the whole person. The pandemic has dramatically ripped the band aid off the notion that people stop being human at work.
  4. Customize communications based on locations, technology/media, accessibility and other elements that keep employees not only informed, but participating.
  5. Empower and upskill managers for the jobs they have now, not the ones they used to have. This includes a focus on supporting employees through coaching, resources, flexibility, collaboration, etc.

While the last two years have not been “normal” by any stretch of the imagination, a shift to viewing people as long-term competitive assets rather than expense lines on a P&L, started in enlightened companies and organizations before the pandemic, which has positioned them with a clear competitive advantage as they transition into the next normal, whatever that is.

We know that engaged employees are:

"far more productive and the work they do tends to result in greater performance, particularly around outcomes that are most important to the organization. They also tend to be more resilient in the face of challenges, have a greater sense of their own efficacy, are able to work with less direct supervision, manifest a more internalized sense of accountability, and are more likely to feel that they are an important part of the organization.”

Sounds like a pretty good payoff for simply doing the right thing.

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