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Employee engagement - have you got the right proposal?

By James Grima | Jul 31, 12 08:14 AM

With an average of only 35% of employees worldwide being engaged at work, and the other 65% potentially damaging the profitability of their employing organisations, it begs the question: what is employee engagement and how do you encourage it?

What is employee engagement?

‘Employee engagement’ is just fancy management speak for an employee who is completely involved in their work. Employees who are engaged are enthusiastic and positive about their job and will act in a way that benefits the organisation.

People rate the “opportunity to do what they do well” as one of the highest factors in determining employee engagement, with younger workers being more at risk of disengagement (and flight) as they try to figure out what it is that they “do well”.

Disengagement: the bad news

Actively disengaged employees cost the US economy $370 billion annually in lost productivity (Gallup). In Australia, lost productivity can cost as much as $32 billion every year. It’s a lot of money to be throwing away on missed opportunities and poor performing employees. If organisations invest in positive company culture and encourage engagement by just 10%, they could increase their profits by $2,400 per employee per year (IES/Work Foundation Report).

One in three employees are not working to their full potential.

Employees don’t just instantly become disengaged. Usually it’s a gradual process and there are countless ways it can happen.

  • Lack of recognition. 69% of employees would work harder if they were better recognised. Employees want to be valued as human beings and the contributions they make, not just for the work they perform and the money they bring through the door. A whopping 53% of employees surveyed by Globoforce don’t think their company cares about them. On the other hand, 73% agreed that receiving recognition made them more satisfied with their position in the company. Sadly, 17% of these people have never been recognised at work, ever.


  • Lack of job security. Ever since the latest recession, job security holds more of a priority for people than it once did. In fact, according to Randstad, Australians rate long-term job security as more important over competitive salary, with the second most important factor being the company’s financial health.


  • Poor leadership. Lack of trust in executives can have more than twice the impact on engagement levels than trust in immediate managers. Employees who know their managers as “people” are more likely to be engaged. One of the most disturbing figures of all is that 75% of leaders have NO engagement strategy in place even though 90% of leaders are well aware of how engagement impacts on business and its bottom line.


  • R.E.S.P.E.C.T. 64% of employees who feel they have not been treated with respect intend on leaving their current employment within two years.


Engagement: the good news

It isn’t all doom and gloom, and it’s never too late to turn things around! There are some very easy ways to change these depressing facts and figures so the numbers are your side.

  • Understanding what’s going on. 70% of engaged employees say they have a good understanding of how to meet the customer’s needs (Wright Management). This obviously impacts on an employee’s job satisfaction and sense of autonomy. 


  • Something to sing and dance about. 32% of US workers listen to music at work on a portable device. 79% of them say it improves their job satisfaction as well as productivity. So next time you see one of your employees with their ear phones in, chances are they just have a fabulous attitude towards their job and are trying their best to enjoy the moment!


  • Innovation leads to engagement. Higher levels of innovation within an organisation are strongly related to higher levels of engagement. 59% of engaged employees say that their job allows them to foster their creative side. (Gallup)


  • Promotion. The higher up in the organisation an employee is, the more likely they are to be engaged. No room for advancement is a number one way to force ambitious employees to become disengaged.


What these figures show us is that an employee’s lack of engagement is generally due to feeling undervalued as well as having minimal chances for advancement and less-than-adequate leadership. This leads to disengagement, poor performance and ultimately loss of profits.By ensuring your employees have room to grow, be creative and feel appreciated, you’re starting off on the right foot towards a productive and profitable workplace.

“Being recognised for doing a good job makes a person feel better about themselves and the company they work for, ensuring more loyalty.” – Globoforce Survey Respondent


James is a Premium member of Business Chicks; request his online businesscard and connect with him here.

A lifetime Entrepreneur, James has amassed over 20 years of hands-on successful multi-unit food retailing experience, opening his first retail pizza outlet at the age of 19 and was a millionaire by 21. He franchised the Pizza Lovers brand in 1999, which was acquired by Domino’s Pizza five years later. Now, Founder and CEO of Positive Training - the only specialist Food Retail Traineeship provider. Read more tips and tools from the workplace culture guru at www.JamesGrima.com.au.

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