A concept that has been around for 20 years doesn’t just suddenly die; rather, it evolves. Employee engagement is one such concept. It’s origin and evolution has been chronicled by Rodd Wagner, author of “Widgets: The 12 New Rules for Managing Your Employees As If They’re Real People.”
In a 1990 study published in the Academy of Management Journal, Boston University Professor William Kahn coined the terms “personal engagement” and “personal disengagement” to describe behaviors by which people bring in or leave out their personal selves during work role performances.
Employees who are personally engaged feel their natural talents are being utilized and work harder because they feel management cares about their success. Gallup research has shown that engaged employees are also most likely to drive the innovation, growth and revenue that their companies need.
Over time, according to Wagner, employee engagement unfortunately got absorbed into company culture as a checklist routine, rather than as an overriding philosophy.
“Do You Do Engagement? … I Sure Feel Engaged in My Job!”
No normal person talks this way about their workplace. However, employee engagement continues to be measured and it’s considered an important metric in corporate evaluations. Let’s take a look at the stats.
The Good News
U.S. employee engagement is holding steady at 31.7% in 2015 and is somewhat higher than it was last year, according to Gallup.
The Bad News
Highly educated employees, those with a postgraduate degree, are the least engaged (29.1%) compared to employees with a high school diploma or less (36.1%).
This is bad news for a lot of managers because the employees who are probably the highest paid — due to their college degrees — are disengaged.
Shouldn’t a company get what it pays for? Of course! Companies with engaged employees have 22% higher profitability than those with disengaged workers, according to Gallup’s research.
Better News for Small Business Owners
Past Gallup studies have shown that smaller companies have a better chance of engaging employees. Seven states with the lowest level of active disengagement had a higher percentage of firms with 10 or fewer employees.
Interestingly, No. 1 and No. 5 on the disengagement list are New York and New Jersey. We have a lot of work to do where I live!
Remove the Barriers of Communication in the Workplace
Employee engagement might change in terminology, but it will never fully disappear. Wagner writes, “All the accumulated nonsense will need to be pruned away so that a manager or leader can say with a straight face, ‘No games, no tricks. I want you to be happy here and to feel comfortable telling us if we’re not holding up our end of the bargain.’”
Perhaps hearing from a company’s management team on a regular basis can make a difference. Positive reinforcement through training, development and encouragement helps maintain employee engagement, especially for newly hired talent.
So What Next?
- Are you looking to engage your Team or Contractors?
- How about your workgroup ? What would it take to develop and encourage the people you work with every day?
- Need Advice? I can Help , Sign Up for Awesome Updates.
If you need a great book to put a plan in place to encourage your team , look no further, check out my series of interviews on the Podcast with Phillip Hatfield where we talk about his book Contagious Encouragement.