Everyday the spirits of millions of people die at the front door of their workplace. There is an epidemic of workers who are uninterested and disengaged from the work they do, and the cost to the U.S. economy has been pegged at over $300 billion annually. According to a recent survey from Deloitte, only 20% of people say they are truly passionate about their work, and Gallup surveys show the vast majority of workers are disengaged, with an estimated 23 million “actively disengaged.”
This issue presents a tremendous challenge for organizational leaders. Even worse than dealing with the effects of people who leave your organization, you have to manage these disengaged workers who have decided to “quit and stay.” You’re still paying them to under-perform and ultimately undermine the effectiveness of your organization!
Research by The Ken Blanchard Companies on the topic of Employee Work Passion has uncovered 12 factors that help create a culture of engagement. These 12 factors fall into three categories: Job Factors, Organizational Factors, and Relationship Factors. Integrating these factors into your leadership and organizational practices will help foster an environment where employees are more committed, productive, and engaged in their work.
- Autonomy – People need to feel empowered to make decisions about their work and tasks. They need to be in control of their work and the ability to achieve their goals.
- Meaningful Work – Your employees need to know that their work matters. How is it connected to making a difference? How does it help them and the organization succeed?
- Feedback – Engaged employees always know where they stand regarding their performance. Do you offer timely, relevant, and specific information about their performance?
- Workload Balance – Having too much work and not enough time to accomplish it all is demotivating. Experiencing peaks and valleys in workload is normal, but when the peak becomes the norm, people quickly become resentful and feel like they’re being setup to fail.
- Task Variety – Each person is different in regards to how much variety in work tasks meets their motivational needs. Some people are motivated to do a minimal number of tasks over and over again. Others need more variety. The key is to find the right fit for people in regards to the variety of their work.
- Collaboration – Does your organizational structure and policies foster cooperation among individuals within a work unit or across departments, or does it encourage competition and the withholding of resources?
- Performance Expectations – People want to know what is expected of them. Does your organization have systems in place that allow employees to clearly know what’s expected in terms of the level of quality and quantity of their work outcomes?
- Growth – Do employees believe that your organization fosters opportunities for career and job growth? This is increasingly more challenging as organizations become flatter and there is less hierarchical growth “up the ladder,” but smart organizations are finding ways to allow for employee growth through other avenues.
- Procedural Justice (Fairness) – Are decisions made fairly and equitably? Are rules applied equally to everyone in the organization, or is there a culture of bias or playing favorites?
- Distributive Justice (Rewards) – People need to feel that the distribution of rewards and compensation are commensurate to the effort they put out and the results they achieve at work. A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
- Connectedness with Colleagues – Like the theme song from the old TV sitcom “Cheers” says, “You want to go where everybody knows your name.” People need rewarding interpersonal relationships with their coworkers to be fully engaged on the job.
- Connectedness with Leader – Employees want and need a supportive and personal relationship with their boss. Of course this varies by personality types and other factors, but everyone wants to have a positive and productive relationship with their leader.
On January 25, 2012 at 8:00 a.m. PST, The Ken Blanchard Companies is hosting a free Leadership Livecast and I’m excited to be one of 40 thought leaders who will be presenting on the topic of “Quit and Stayed.” Over 5,000 people have registered to attend and I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about how you can address this workplace epidemic.
What a timely post.
This past weekend I was discussing with a president of an organization what keeps his employees engaged and performing on a level of excellence. (I could have used your fantastic list) but what I stressed in our conversation was the culture of his organization was a key factor to the success he was striving for.
It was important that he understood that significance of engaging the hearts and minds of his employees if he wanted his employees to engage in performance of excellence.
The bottom line is: Smart companies, successful organizations create cultures where their biggest investment is their employees and when their employees are engaged the company and organization succeeds.
Your post is excellent and very worthy.
Lead From Within
Hi Lolly. You hit the nail on the head! Organizations that have a high-level of engagement truly realize that their success is dependent upon their employees. Creating positive norms, policies, and systems help foster that environment but in the end it comes down to the value leaders place on their followers.
A great list of things that we regularly see as drivers of employee engagement in studies. One of the interesting thing is that it is fairly well known amongst employees what would make a difference but they’re so seldom asked. Often leaders fear this will open them up to unrealistic feedback or requests – but most employees understand the reality of what their organisation can and cannot do for them and are just looking for some of these relationship based things – not more money.
Great point Jason! It’s odd you mention the need for asking employees what they want…I’m speaking about that very thing tomorrow in our Leadership Livecast on the topic of Quit and Stay. If you have the time, I’d encourage you to check it out. It’s free!
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Loved the simple way that you explained what the 12 factors.
However, can you share the links to the data source of the surveys you referenced, where you wrote:
“U.S. economy has been pegged at over $300 billion annually. According to a recent survey from Deloitte, only 20% of people say they are truly passionate about their work, and Gallup surveys show the vast majority of workers are disengaged, with an estimated 23 million”
Hi Bruno. Here’s a link to the Deloitte survey regarding employee passion (http://www.deloitte.com/assets/Dcom-UnitedStates/Local%20Assets/Documents/TMT_us_tmt/2011%20Shift%20Index%20-%20Worker%20Passion.pdf) and the Gallup survey data can be found here: http://www.gallup.com/consulting/52/employee-engagement.aspx
Thank you Randy! I’m helping a friend design his thesis presentation that researches employee engagement so this is very helpful!
I really appreciate your timely reply!
Hope you have a great day!
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Great list and timely (I have a meeting about these ideas next week!) thanks
I’m glad you found it helpful Connor. Good luck with your meeting!
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I love this insight. Understanding the different types of factors makes it easier to understand that this is an entire organizational challenge. Engagement factors into every aspect of the workplace. That is why it is so complicated.
I am not surprised at all that one of the main factors of engagement is missing from this list. I say that because it is seemingly missing from every list on engagement.
Engagement comes from meaningful work and what gives work most meaning is the beneficiary of the work you do. Of course, connections with colleagues and leadership are important. But when it comes to meaningful work, nothing is more important than the relationship, or connection to the client or customer.
If we don’t care about the success of our client, it is impossible to make the work we do meaningful, regardless of how engaged we want to be.
Hi Michael, thanks for your comments. Meaningful Work is actually one of the 12 factors we’ve identified (second bullet under Job Factors). People need to know that their work is important and makes a difference, and a key responsibility for leaders is to help their people understand that importance.
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