Several prior posts have focused on the concept of enterprise engagement, and we’ve shared some of the research showing that increasing engagement is a good thing.
For example, companies with engaged employees have 6% higher net profit margins (Towers Perrin), and engaged companies consistently generate higher shareholder returns (Kenexa). In addition, organizations with highly-engaged workers enjoy lower turnover, higher safety ratings, fewer product defects, reduced absenteeism, greater productivity, and higher profitability with better customer satisfaction metrics.
We’ve also shared some troubling-but-true realities based on research by Gallup and others, such as the fact that only 30% of American employees are engaged at work; and the 70% that are not engaged costs the nation $450 billion to $550 billion per year in lost productivity!
But in spite of the clear benefits, traditional engagement efforts have failed to yield tangible results and have also failed the sustainability test.
The reasons for this lack of success are varied, and over the next few posts we’ll share some thoughts on some of the more common causes of failure to engage employees and customers.
To begin, one reason for unsuccessful engagement efforts is that people often fail to understand what engagement is and what it is not.
Defining Engagement – We Know it When We See it!
Stephen Wendel from HelloWallet offers a commonly used definition of engagement: “Engagement means having an emotional attachment to work.”
With this definition, employees emotionally care about their work and their company. He further describes employee engagement as a mental state — it’s something in our heads and hearts that represents the attachment we feel to our work.
The definition also includes an element of discretionary effort. “Engaged workers don’t work just for a paycheck or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organization’s goals.”
Engaged employees are willing to go “above and beyond” what is expected of them. You can call it “being all in” “or doing 110%.” Whatever we call it, we know it when we see it.
We Know What Engagement is Not
On the other hand, disengaged employees are unlikely to “go the extra mile” or even go the first mile.
They do the minimum or sometimes even less. They take more sick days, are tardy more often and sometimes even undermine the work. Many actively disengaged employees also bring about documented increases in customer dissatisfaction and complaints, and decrease morale among potentially-engaged workers.
Now that we’ve confirmed what engagement “is-and-is-not,” our next post will share some of the additional and most common causes of a failure to engage…