Executive Coaching Articles

Power of an Engaged Workforce

A Towers Perrin study of 86,000 employees worldwide, states that only 14% of the global workforce is highly engaged on the job. These individuals feel a connection to their work and the company and a passion for what they do. They are focused on the job and excited about the work they are doing. They are high-potential employees who are helping the organization move forward. When a majority of its employees is highly engaged, the company gains stronger revenue growth, lower costs, and higher income than companies who are less engaged.

An especially discouraging finding of the Towers Perrin study is that 62% of employees are only moderately engaged and about 25% are disengaged. A 2005 study by the Gallup Poll found that only 55% of the US workforce is not engaged. Gallups research also stated that by the time employees have been with an organization for six months, less than 40% are engaged.

A recent survey of business executives found that close to three-quarters of those leaders consider employee engagement to be critically important to the competitive success of their companies (Accenture, Outlook 2005). Thus, its vital that we lift the moderately engaged and disengaged to a higher level of engagement.

What is the definition of engagement? Engagement is defined as employees’ willingness and ability to contribute to company success, which ultimately comes down to people’s desire to invest that extra level of discretionary effort that separates outstanding performers from the rest of the pack. (Towers Perrin Working Today: Understanding What Drives Employee Engagement, 2003).

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What are the benefits of higher engagement? Highly engaged workers believe they can:

  • Contribute to business results.
  • Impact the quality of their company’s products.
  • Affect customer service.
  • Impact costs in their job or unit.
  • Make a difference in their company (thus are less likely to leave for another job)

The article, Harnessing the Power of an Engaged Workforce, by Accenture, Outlook 2005, describes the top ten ways to positively influence employee engagement:

  1. Rewards and recognition Ensure that recognition and rewards are clearly and consistently tied to job performance and overall business results.
  2. Human capital infrastructure Ensure that your human resources systems provide managers with the data they need to perform their work in a timely, accurate, and consistent manner. Engaged employees are provided by their organizations with the resources they need to effectively do their jobs.
  3. Learning management Provide the learning opportunities needed for employees to excel at their current jobs and to grow into new ones.
  4. Knowledge management Provide employees with the means to find the knowledge and resources they need to perform optimally.
  5. Performance appraisal Provide frequent, direct performance appraisals. Organizations that perform this process well have 52% higher employee engagement scores than organizations that perform it poorly.
  6. Workplace design Create a physical workplace environment conducive to high performance.
  7. Employee relations Communicate details about major organizational changes and initiate programs to reduce the negative impact of such changes on morale and productivity.
  8. Career development Provide frequent and personalized attention to employee’s career development and planning.
  9. Human capital strategy Ensure that HR programs and policies are consistent and fair for all employees.
  10. Recruiting Recruit from a pool of people most likely to be engaged with your organization’s mission.