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When Engagement is up so is Productivity

When people like what they are doing—and where they are doing it—they tend to be more productive. That is what the term and business of “engagement” is all about.

For today’s skilled worker, engagement is as important as salary. Just a few years ago, engagement was a relatively new buzzword that spawned a wave of engagement consultants, measurements, and tactical tips to improve “employee engagement.”

Engagement remains important but, increasingly, employers are becoming frustrated with engagement tactics that do not work for their jobsite as they watch yet another skilled, essential worker bail for a job with their competitor. When you lose employees, not only productivity goes down, but morale, retention rates, and potentially, the innovative force to remain relevant in the marketplace.

So how bad is it?

Gallup keeps an eye on employee engagement in the US. Their most recent survey, based on interviews with 80,844 working adults, suggests that worker engagement rates in the US are flat and have basically remained that way for several years. Only about 32 percent of employees in the US consider themselves engaged in their work and their workplace. Most respondents, just over 50 percent, rate themselves as not engaged and the remainder reports active disengagement.

Another Gallup survey suggests “healthcare, housing, and education,” represent an outsize portion of spending—and stress—that is sapping US productivity. In August, the US Department of Commerce reported the country enjoyed a three percent jump in growth in the second quarter of 2017, which was a substantial boost from the first quarter. The Commerce department attributes the rise partially to an increase in consumer spending.

That said, US growth has not risen much past three percent since recovery from the recession, and lower productivity is a part of the complex economic equation. Even as people work more hours, and technology is pushing some employees into “always-on” mode, personal and corporate productivity are not soaring as might be expected from the bump in tech and marketplace competitiveness.

As the job marketplace becomes tougher on employers, unemployment has decreased, but Gallup reports unengaged employees, “who show up and kill time, doing the minimum required with little extra effort to go out of their way for customers. They are less vigilant and more likely to miss work and change jobs when new opportunities arise.” In other words, lack of engagement does a number on productivity.

Take a hard look at what engagement means to you and your employees

Lack of engagement costs your company, but the answer may not be to create a shiny new engagement tactic like free smoothies, travel ticket scheduling, or concierge pet care. As we mentioned earlier, figuring out what unique strategy your firm has to offer goes a long way to attracting the employees that will be engaged with the work and environment you have to offer. Deloitte makes three suggestions:

Figure out what “engagement” really means in your industry, and your company. Do the work to develop the definition, check it, and create strategies (other than adding a ping pong table) that would give your talent a reason to find meaning in what they are doing.
Measure engagement in something more than an annual survey conducted by an outside consultant and one-time interviews. Employ analysis and real-time feedback to really find out what is going on in your workplace.
Corporate needs to buy in to engagement as a “core business strategy,” in a way that shows more than lip service.

The bottom line is that engaging work adds meaning to the hours your workers spend on your payroll. If you know what your company has to offer its human resource, and why, you can recruit for the kind of employees that boost your creativity, retention, and productivity.

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