Time to Get Engaged

I've often wondered why many organizational leaders don't get it about "workforce engagement." Some pay lip service to it but don't invest in it, while others simply discount it. I had a conversation with a Big Pharma executive a few years ago who thought "employee passion" was "fluff." He said his company focused on talent and bottom line results, period. (He couldn't see that a company with a reputation for having an engaged, inspired workforce MIGHT be a better talent magnet.) Meanwhile the latest Gallup survey shows that only 31% of employees are "actively engaged," 52% are "not engaged," and 17% (over 23 million U.S. workers!) are "actively disengaged."

For those who want data on the quantitative value of employee engagement, there's plenty of it. Gallup estimates that the lost productivity of the 17% "actively disengaged" employees costs the US economy $370 BILLION annually (not to mention the lost productivity of those 52% who are merely "not engaged").

Curt Coffman and Gabriel Gonzalez-Molina in Follow This Path reveal that business units in the top half of employee engagement (compared to those in the bottom half) have a higher success rate of: 86% in customer metrics; 70% in productivity; 70% in reducing turnover; 78% in safety metrics; and 44% in profitability.

And according to a 2004/2005 study by Watson Wyatt USA "the financial performance of organizations with highly favorable employee attitudes is typically nearly 4 times better than the financial performance of companies with poor employee attitudes."

There are plenty more studies to cite, but you get the picture. How come more business leaders don't?