Many business decision makers have intentionally stuck their head in the sand when it comes to employee engagement. They have been talking about it for years now. Engagement equals higher productivity and blah, blah, blah. Yes, those numbers are real, and Gallup gives us the evidence:
“Work units in the top quartile in employee engagement outperformed bottom-quartile units by 10% on customer ratings, 22% in profitability, and 21% in productivity. Work units in the top quartile also saw significantly lower turnover (25% in high-turnover organizations, 65% in low-turnover organizations), shrinkage (28%), and absenteeism (37%) and fewer safety incidents (48%), patient safety incidents (41%), and quality defects (41%).”
But what isn’t being talked about is the reason so many companies fail in building engaged workforces.
Companies looking to improve employee engagement numbers won’t get the figures they want until the employee side of the conversation opens up. Not until we tackle the other part of the equation will the numbers reflect what the company side is hoping to achieve. Companies need to dip their toes in the soft and scary side of this issue. “It reeks of counseling or therapy,” an executive said to me. Yeah, you betcha, it does. So what? If your goal is to make your company workforce more effective, more productive, and more profitable, are you going to shy away from doing what works because it’s too touchy-feely?
I’m being paid by employees all over the country to help them figure out why they aren’t happy in companies where, by all appearances, they should be. We have to reach the employees who think that something external is the answer.
By the way, helping them sort out their internal career clutter doesn’t always mean they’ll leave. Accepting personal responsibility for career wellness creates freedom for employees at all levels to engage for reasons they haven’t before. Millennials are already sparking change in the way we think about career coaching as reported in this article and this one. Newsflash, it’s not only millennials who need it.
For anyone leading a company that cares about culture and understands how vital it is to success, the next step is opening up to the “soft” side. Coach the employee side, the personal side, of employee engagement, complete the equation and who knows, companies just may begin to see the ROI they’ve been trying to see for the past 30 years.