The State of the American Workplace

I just read (twice) a 200-page article entitled 'The State of the American Workplace' and it was fascinating.  It talks about the metrics associated with engaging workers and that it is largely the direct supervisor's responsibility to engender engagement in the organization.  A dismal 33% of employees are engaged, meaning they feel connected to the mission, feel that they are working in their strengths zone, that they are appreciated and that they are going somewhere in the organization.  This leaves 67% of workers disengaged, looking for other jobs while working and creating toxicity inside and outside the walls of the business.

Yet obviously people remain the core component of a successful or failing enterprise.  Or do they?  There are many successful companies by financial measures that are toxic in their culture.  It just feels crappy to work there.  People will stay at a job for the paycheck, but check out little by little year after year.  The question to me is, how much more successful could a company be if collaboration and culture were a top priority?  The numbers speak for themselves.  Astonishingly enough engaged employees create much more revenue and growth for a business.  The figures this article throws around is that disengagement costs an organization upwards to $600 billion nationwide.  But this aside, it is just the right thing to do to treat people with respect and care.

The article goes on to identify the 12 components that measure employee engagement, what they call Q12 or the 12 questions.  Questions that assess appreciation, development, connection to the mission, using strengths, etc.  All of these questions aim at understanding where a workforce needs to ratchet up their efforts to engage people.  I recently did two of these Q12 surveys with a manufacturer and a non-profit human services agency.  It was enlightening for the leader to see the state of the union and where some developmental points for the future would be.  Both of these organizations have a good culture already, and identifying challenge areas will make it all the better in the future with consistent and strategic effort.

Lastly, in a related article, since the manager is the linchpin in the organization to create engagement, there are 4 accountabilities associated with them.  1.  understanding worker motivations and needs, 2. giving people develop opportunities, 3. identifying workers' talents/strengths, and 4. giving clear performance objectives with ongoing feedback.  These 4 can serve as a meeting agenda, formal meeting, or informal check in.  The understanding is that to hit on all of these points over time consistently ignites people feeling valued, trusted, which in turn engenders buy-in to the team and the organization.