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.


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.

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!

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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.