Showing up at work is not enough

Jim Donovan

The great tragedy in American business today is not the outsourcing of jobs as many would have us believe. Granted, jobs are being outsourced to countries where they can be done less expensively, however, there is a bigger problem underlying the failing business climate in the United States today.

The real problem, the elephant in the room if you will, is disengagement in the workplace. According to a 2001 Gallup survey, disengaged workers, those employees who are not really at work though they may be physically present, were costing American businesses between $292 and $355 Billion dollars a year in lost revenue and this was based on only a 19% level of disengagement.

A more recent study, conducted by Hewitt Associates and published in Inc. Magazine, reported current disengagement to be closer to 35%. The promising news is that the study also found that companies whose employees were happier and more engaged at work outperformed the total stock market index and provided higher shareholder returns.

Are we to believe that it’s acceptable for 35% of our workforce to be mentally absent from their jobs?

I don’t know about you but I find that appalling. To put that into perspective, a company whose workforce numbers 500 would have 175 people receiving paychecks for doing little or nothing to contribute to the company’s bottom line.

I realize this is a complex problem that people smarter than I have tried to solve and understand that there are no simple solutions, however, I do believe there are things we can do to reduce the problem in any organization.

For starters, companies, big and small, need to ensure that top management has articulated to every employee the company’s mission and values; what it stands for and what it wants to be known for. They must have a clear vision of where they are going and a strategic plan to achieve this vision and this must be demonstrated at every level within the company.

Every individual throughout the organization should understand their role in the company’s success and, furthermore, how the vision of the organization fits in with their personal vision and life’s goals. They need to see how they fit into the big picture.

Your people need to know how to motivate themselves to become the best they can be and be encouraged to develop their personal and professional skills. This is one of the reasons so many of our most successful companies have adopted reading programs and provide employees with training seminars.

Will everyone embrace this idea? Of course not. Some employees will resist the change as they do with any change. Some will reject it all together and most likely leave the company. In hindsight this may prove to be beneficial to everyone concerned.

The remainder, however, will be more engaged, more motivated and more invested in their own personal success and that of the entire organization.

The resulting benefit to the company will be increased productivity, a more cooperative and congenial work environment, an engaged workforce and, ultimately, greater success for the company.

These are the processes and values that have built the most successful businesses in America. These are the conditions that are necessary if United States businesses are to return once again to being world leaders.

It is a proven fact that the American worker, when motivated and engaged, is among the most productive in the world.

How long are we willing to allow this problem to continue before we say, “Enough!” and do something about it?

How engaged are you and your people?

What are you doing to ensure engagement in your organization?

Jim Donovan is the author of This is Your Life, Not a Dress Rehersal
Copyright 2012 Author retains owndership. All Rights Reserved.

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