Employee Engagement: The Most Misunderstood Driver of Results

disengaged employee sitting in front of his laptop looking boredAt a recent business luncheon, a CEO was asked how many people work in his company: “About half of them,” he responded.

Sadly, this glib comment validates what Gallup has been stating for years. Employee engagement levels have hovered around 30% since about 2000, with the most recent statistic at 32% in 2015.

Engaged employees are enthusiastic about their work, dedicated to the success of the company and willing to go the extra mile to ensure it succeeds. They can take a company from good to great.

Checked Out on the Job

On the flip side, 50.8% of our employees are disengaged – putting in their time and doing the minimum required. The other remaining 17.2% are actively disengaged, busily working against our businesses every day. This overall lack of employee morale is leading to between $450 and $550 billion per year in lost productivity.

The result is a crisis of engagement, and most business owners and managers aren’t even aware of it.

Engagement Drives Performance

Imagine if most of your employees were actively engaged. What would that do for your business?

According to 30 years of research and 30 million employees surveyed, Gallup shows a strong connection between employee engagement and company performance:

  • Customer ratings up 10%
  • Profitability up 22%
  • Productivity up 21%
  • Turnover rates improved 65%
  • Shinkage (theft) improved 28%
  • Absenteeism improved 37%
  • Safety incidents improved 48%
  • Quality (defects) improved 41%

Now here’s a statistic that packs a punch: Companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share!

Bosses Trump Companies

If we look at the most impactful way to reverse the engagement trend, all roads point to great bosses – versus profit-sharing, work-life balance initiatives, and other perks like ping pong tables and yoga classes.

In the book First, Break All the Rules, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman show that if an employee’s relationship with his or her manager is compromised, then no amount of perks will persuade them to perform at top levels.

Further, a study by Accenture found that the number one reason people quit companies is because they didn’t like their boss. Multiple studies also say that being cared about by a boss is the strongest predictor of employee engagement.

How to Be a Great Boss

The newly released book, How to be a Great Bossby Gino Wickman and Rene Boer, claims that successful companies have engaged employees – but it all starts at the top.

The book shows how to use the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®) to create and maintain an environment where employees feel pride and loyalty for the company, and go the extra mile to finish a piece of work. These employees are in alignment with the organization’s values and committed to helping the company achieve its goals.

What Else Works?

Studies show that direct interaction from leadership, recognition for accomplishments, strong bonds between coworkers, a sense of purpose and a sense of autonomy all contribute to improved engagement. Here are some facts to support these claims:

  • Money doesn’t matter. Nearly 60% of employees say “giving recognition” is the #1 way to improve engagement.
  • Companies that focus on building employee strengths over correcting weaknesses have more than 2X normal engagement.
  • Employees are 50% more likely to be engaged if they have regular meetings with their boss.
  • According to Jack Welch, good business leaders create a vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion. When employees share the vision of the company and its purpose, they are more engaged.

So how about having fewer sick days, accidents, errors, conflicts and grievances – while watching productivity and retention go up? Having passionate people won’t just improve your bottom line, it will give you a better, more enjoyable place to work, which will literally make your life better.

Have you done everything possible to make your people successful? Get more help by downloading the first chapter of How to be a Great Boss.

This article originally appeared on the B-Better Business Coaching blog.

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