Disengaged EmployeesWhenever we ask a group of workshop participants how many rank employee engagement as one of their top priorities, most raise their hands.

We’re encountering a growing number of organizations finding that their engagement survey ratings are slipping — and not just at the frontline employee level. A growing number of people — at all levels and in all roles — are feeling trapped and stuck in their jobs. “I owe, I owe it’s off to work I go,” becomes their sad refrain. They can almost hear the cell doors clang shut behind them as they enter their workplace for “another day another dollar” in Day Prison.

Recently Zenger Folkman studied 970 people in one organization who rated their engagement in the bottom 10%. This disgruntled and very unhappy group included all levels and positions in the organization including executives.  For them work was drudgery and a dirty four letter word.

After analyzing the survey questions from a 360 assessment that were answered highly negatively a factor analysis was done to identify eight key themes that summarized their frustrations.

1.      Lack of pride and satisfaction with the organization.

2.      Minimal appreciation or recognition.

3.      Absence of challenge and meaning in work.

4.      Unwillingness to go above and beyond basic requirements.

5.      Conclusion that they were not treated fairly.

6.      Feeling of powerlessness.

7.      Organization failed to appreciate and practice values such as teamwork, trust and valuing diversity.

8.      Minimal opportunities for growth and development opportunities.

Many leaders recognize the strong and direct links between levels of employee engagement and innovation, customer satisfaction, quality, safety, productivity, revenues, and profitability. What’s not so often recognized is the strong and direct link between engagement and my on-the-job, daily leadership. So many attempts to improve employee engagement focus on organizational initiatives like pay and benefits, flex hours, childcare, branding, communications, recognition programs, work-life balance, training programs, or facilities and equipment.

Yet a ream of studies show the single biggest and best predictor of engagement, satisfaction, and commitment is how people are treated by their immediate leaders. These leadership behaviors cascade down through the organization and form its culture.

Leaders hold the key to unlocking and freeing their direct reports and teams from Day Prison.

Engagement Resources: