The numbers are disastrous.
A recent Gallup research update highlighted that only 34% of employees are engaged.
Even worse still, the results also show that 16.5% are what is referred to as "actively disengaged". Scary stuff.
As business owners and leaders, we need to wake up to this harsh truth.
In a world where business is increasingly becoming more competitive and complex and we are all fighting hard to grow revenue, profits and marketshare, employee engagement is arguably the most overlooked business strategy.
I am as guilty as anyone.
Too often, when I am looking at business growth strategies, my attention instinctively goes to areas such as marketing and sales or cost management in an effort to improve the bottom line. These tend to be more 'tangible' business strategies that are, in relative terms, easy to measure and execute.
But the Gallop research is clear. In 2019, improving employee engagement is the best way to improve profitability.
In fact, the same research paper clearly shows that highly engaged employees result in increased profit of 21%!
This makes a focus on developing strategies to engage employees and keep them engaged arguably the most important job for modern leaders.
As mentioned earlier, a 21% increase in business profitability can be directly related to employee engagement.
Engaged employees wake up and actually look forward to work, something that results in them being both more present and productive.
If you business is customer facing, employee engagement is vital.
We all know the experience of walking into a business only to be met by a semi-depressed employee who would obviously rather be anywhere else than serving your needs.
Engaged employees put out an infectious energy of enthusiasm that will make your customers feel great, spend more money and keep coming back.
In fact, highly engaged employees who are customer facing are proven to achieve 20% increase in sales versus non-engaged.
Employee turnover is not only a nuisance for leaders but something that is highly costly.
By the time you add up recruitment, training and lost productivity, the cost of each employee that leaves is about 6-9 months of salary. This can really hurt the bottom line.
Highly engaged employees don't think the grass is greener somewhere else and are simply unlikely to leave.
Whilst employee engagement has always been a vital part of leadership, the modern workforce demands that they feel engaged at work.
In 2019 employees have more options than ever with relatively low unemployment, technology and cultural changes making switching jobs both easy and socially acceptable.
Moreover, these days, employees simply refuse to settle for a job that don't meet their emotional needs of engagement.
For leaders, this means the task of creating an engaged culture is no longer an option - it is a must.
So what do highly engaged workplaces have in common:
Highly engaged organisations are not possible unless leaders prioritise the task of monitoring and improving engagement.
Leaders need to lead by example and hire managers that are on the same page.
A culture of open and honest communication is vital.
Employees need to feel that they can ask questions, speak up and offer new perspectives.
The days of micromanagement are, in my view, over.
Modern employees will welcome KPI's and clear expectations but then expect their managers to trust them to achieve the outcome without constant micromanagement.
We all want to be respected. It is a basic human need.
Leaders in highly engaged workplaces demonstrate respect in all interactions with their staff and then demand it across the organisation.
Organisations need to have a clear strategy for employee training and growth that provides all staff with a clear pathway to learn new skills and take on additional responsibilities.
There you have it. The stats are in. No longer can managers and leaders ignore employee engagement.
Put the work into keeping your employees engaged will result in not only a happy workplace, but a happy accountant come tax time.
CEO & Founder