According to a report by Bersin and Associates in 2012, companies spent “approximately $720 million annually in engagement improvement”.
This begs one question: Why isn’t it working?
If you were to survey a cross-section of employees across several lines of business and ask them why they believe employees are not fully committed to their work, you would get answers like this:
- Companies are not committed to us as employees. Why should we be committed to them?
- The leaders only care about themselves. We do all the work, but they get the credit.
- We haven’t had a pay raise in several years.
- Our efforts are not being recognized.
- Much is said about “thinking outside the box”, but when we do, our ideas are overruled by the bureaucracy of large companies.
- There is no freedom in sitting in a cubicle all day, and just doing what we are told to do.
- We are bored. There is no challenge and no real reward.
- We don’t trust the leadership.
While we as leaders do not like to hear these raw comments, like it or not, they are being said.
Now, to be fair, not all employees are disengaged; and there are debates about the accuracy of some of the data surrounding the percentages. But from my experience as a consultant for corporate team development, the number one reason I am called to serve has to do with engagement improvement.
Think about it for a moment. Our employees have seen reports of untrustworthy leaders. Remember Enron? They have weathered a fierce and prolonged economic wave that has either landed them in the unemployment line, added two or three jobs to the one they are already doing for no extra pay, or caused them to sit in one spot and work for two or three different companies as a result of corporate mergers and acquisitions. Add to this the fact that budgets have been tight, with pay increases being minimal for several years, and you can begin to see where even the best employees could become disengaged.
Still not convinced?
Why are 75% of employees (according to several reports) actively seeking new positions or pursuing outside business opportunities?
If your organization is losing its best employees to the competition or your current team is not performing with passion, the cause is likely expressed in one of the complaints listed above.
And the root of each of those complaints? What are our people really telling us?
They are saying they do not feel valued.
There was a company once with several divisions. Each division went on the chopping block as the company went through bankruptcy. The leader of one division in particular put signs up in his department with a number: 301. Outside his office door, 301. On the elevator door, 301. In the breakroom, 301. He committed to his people that he would fight for every one of their jobs, even if it meant he lost his own. The result? One fully committed team, the likes of which you seldom see. Was the division sold? Yes. But the leader and his whole team went on to work together, creating a highly profitable division in a new company…together.
Are you that committed to your team?
We as leaders tend to want our teams to commit to us, when the reality is, we have it backwards. If we are not committed to our teams first – if we are not making every person feel valuable to the team – they will not be committed to us or to our mission.
I dare you…write the number of team members you have on a piece of paper. Post it on your desk. Look at it every day and do something each day that makes every one of those people feel like they are truly part of the team…that you are as committed to their success as you want them to be to yours.
You may just be amazed at the results.