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Engaging The Workforce
Article by Greg Martin
August 13, 2015
10 Comments

Engaging the Workforce

Engaging the workforce has long been one of the biggest challenges of any business leader.

History has shown us that every time this country has experienced a weak economy it eventually bounces back. Because of the weak economy, organizations may be facing a low percentage of employee turnover.

Some executives may be tempted to think that their current actions are having no effect on the retention of their employees since voluntary turnover rates have been low throughout the downturn. But there are steps leaders can take to have a tangible effect.

The New Reality

Studies show that more employees are looking for new opportunities outside their organization than in 2008 and employers’ actions may actually be increasing turnover intentions, with many employees planning to jump ship as the economy continues to gradually improve.

To prevent the employee departure “flood gates” from opening, leaders have a plan to retain their best and brightest employees.

How do we hold on to our best talent? Studies have shown that pay increases only retain top talent on a short-term basis. To prevent the loss of talent typically seen during economic recoveries, you must develop and maintain ways to engage the workforce.

Let’s make a case for employee engagement. According to recent research, companies with highly engaged employees are 200% more profitable than companies with low engagement levels.

profits

But few studies show employees highly engaged and the numbers show:

  • 17% of employees are Highly Engaged
  • 64% of employees are Moderately Engaged
  • 19% of employees are Disengaged

However, visionary companies will put in steps to minimize disengagement.

Engaged Employees Consistently Exceed Expectations

As a leader, I understand you will not be able to engage a 100% of your workforce.  Although, when people feel like they are wanted, respected, and included they feel connected to the company which in turn the organization creates an affinity or a strong connection with employees and clients.

Engaged employees stay for what the give. Disengaged employees stay for what they can get.

As a leader, fully engaging the workforce is difficult. Regardless, when people feel that they are wanted, respected, and included, then they feel connected to the company. This is how the organization creates an affinity or a strong connection with employees and clients.

Related:  Shortcomings of “Quick Fix” Corporate Leadership

Engaged employees stay for what they can give. Disengaged employees stay for what they can get.

During my career I have worked for some great organizations and encountered some great leaders and mentors. One of the most significant things that they taught me was to try and get everyone involved. Getting everyone involved does not mean calling a meeting that wastes everybody’s time.

Engagement is a powerful concept because, if done correctly, it allows employees to go the extra mile, to take ownership of their work, to surpass organizational goals, and to establish trust.

Companies can no longer afford to put their employees on the back burner. The cost is too high. Employee turnover, overtime, retraining and poor customer satisfaction can all result if employee engagement is not an immediate focus.

Leadership SkillsWe Value You and Your Contributions

“We value you and your contributions.” That is the message that organizations send their employees when they engage them.

An engaged employee” is one who is fully involved, enthusiastic about their work and thus will act in a way that furthers their organization’s interests.

Other benefits your business will gain are:

  • Employees that feel confident in their ability
  • Supervisors who build high-performing teams
  • Promoting key people because they are ready for the next level
  • Completing projects on time and under budget
  • Growing trust and a stronger sense of community
  • Retaining the best and brightest talent
  • Making and saving more money

When businesses owners do not invest in their employees, the business will continue to accumulate cost. Some of those costs include time, energy and money spent hiring a new employee.

My call to action is for business leaders to begin investing time and money in their employees. Time is especially important. Leaders can invest time in many ways and it is up to us to discover what makes our direct reports click.

How would you complete this sentence:

“Today at work…….”?  

What would your answer say about you, your co-workers, and your workplace?

How Are You Engaging the Workforce?

If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

Would you like to contribute a post?

Greg Martin

Greg works for Sedgwick County Department of Corrections and owns Martin Leadership & Management Development. He is a U.S. Army veteran & holds a MS in Leadership and Management from Friends University.

  • Great article Greg and I agree winning organizations must engage their people to be successful in the future. Success as an organization in the 21st Century will require new thinking or at least right thinking when it comes to leadership. The days of, “do this or else,” are gone. Sadly though, many of those in leadership positions will not get onboard. What do you think is needed beyond research to actually get leaders to adopt new or correct leadership styles? Determining there is a problem is quite different from fixing a problem.

  • Kyle Toppazzini

    Hi Greg

    I really enjoyed reading your article. I think the statistics that you present are telling. The part of your article on engagement is a key factor infact disengaged employees tend to be absent from work more often than engaged employees which is a significant cost as well.

    I am glad I had an opportunity to read this blog.

  • Thanks for the article Greg. This topic continues to be relevant in many organizations.

    @ Tim Cummuta, thanks for your question about leadership style. As I’m sure you are aware, there is a lot of literature, but little agreement on a comprehensive model for understanding leadership styles. As it relates to this topic of engagement, participative, servant, and transformational leadership styles that balance a concern for people and production would be good places to start.

  • Greg depicts insights and practical approach.I cannot disagree on the factthat Human Capital is essential Asset of Organization .The Employee is the key factor for success & are to be compensated adequately & to ensure the right talent are retained to consolidate & grow from one strength to another to enrich top & bottom lines oof the organization. Nourishing the talented & aquiing the talent retention through development & focussed attention to the key resources & engagement continuously with enriched rewarding experiences get the work force motivated to deliver day in & out.

    Such forces kepp organizations on fast track growth.

    Key Is Reward,recognoze & compensate well enough to talented pool for Organization growth.

  • Greg,
    As I read the high points of this article, the words, trust and contributions jumped out at me.
    There was a discussion recently at a university about how the lack of trust of our teachers in the schools. Administrators and even the KSDE and KNEA fail to see that they are showing a lack of trust in our teachers. Where and when can teachers really be trusted? When will our contributions be acknowledged? Where can we go to make our very valid ideas about topics like NCLB and Common Core be acknowledged? Why are teachers not recognized for good work?
    Good teachers stay because they engage students, not for what they can get.
    Engagement is a powerful concept because if done correctly it allows employees to go the extra mile, to take ownership, to surpass organizational goals, and it builds TRUST. I wish this applied to the education system.

  • @ Tim your correct in your analogy. I think one of the things is needed is for some (not all), to admit they have a problem and that their style of managing others will soon be very outdated. In my view what organizations need to focus on is blending the needed management principals with good leadership. The workforce by 2020 will be very different than today. The millennial generations will require much more leadership than management. I’m a real believer that leadership is key any business. When you think of names say like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you hear or read that they were great leaders ahead of their time, not that they were great managers. In my mind, there is a nugget their and that would be leadership. Thanks for your comments

  • @ Stephen I agree wuith your reccommendations. How would you go about getting buy-in from those at the top?

  • @ M.S., are you implying that money is the answer to engagement and retaining your top talent?

  • @ Kyle. Your exactly correct. Not only when people call-in sick, others have to pick up the workload. If this becomes an consistent problem it will eventually effect morale and may even cause those who are engaged in their jobs, shift to being in the disengaged category. Then this will lead to turnover, which effects cost and the bottom line. This is why in my view it is so important for organizations to engage their employees. Not just as a flavor of the month, but make it a priority and a strong commitment. For engagement to be effective it must start at the top. Glad you enjoyed the post.

    @LJ, I have great respect for your comments and as a educator which I believe is a very difficult job. Not having much knowledge in the education field, I would believe some schools, districts, and even states are better than others with engagement, just like in any field or organization. The key word in your comments is trust, which I have learned is hard to establish, but easy to lose. If trust is not present, engagement at any level will not be effective. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe I read in Jim Collins, book Good To Great where he shared a story about how at a university one of its seasoned educators did not feel he or others he supervised were treated fairly or even acknowledge by the administration for the work his unit did. That he took upon himself to build his own pocket of greatness with his section that focused on engaging others to build commitment and trust. Thanks for your comments and good luck to you.

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