What’s the State of Your Workforce?

Gallup’s new 2017 State of the Workforce report tells us that not much has changed since the last survey in 2014, or frankly, in the last decade and half when Gallup started measuring engagement.  Only 33% of U.S. employees are engaged.  This rate of engagement rises quite significantly for organizations who place emphasis on being best in class.  At the world’s best organizations 70% of employee are engaged!  It’s clear the old command-and-control leadership style needs to go out the door.  It needs to change to one of high development and ongoing coaching conversations.  This is especially evident when you look at the following results.   Gallup’s survey found:

  • Only 22% of employees strongly agree the leadership of their organization has a clear direction for the organization.
  • Only 15% of employees strongly agree the leadership of their organization makes them enthusiastic about the future.
  • Only 13% of employees strongly agree the leadership of their organization communicates effectively with the rest of the organization.

Here are a few things employees need from their leaders and organizations:

Purposeful work- The new workforce wants to work for a company whose mission and culture reflects their core values and they won’t settle for one that doesn’t.  Take the time to understand employee values and motivators and how those show up in their daily work.  Explain to employees how they are making a difference and adding value for your customers, community, culture, company or team.

Know what’s expected of them- Only 6 of 10 employees know what’s expected of them.  Clarify performance expectations, discuss progress towards goals and offer coaching and resources to help them succeed.  Talk openly about problems or issues and enable employees to develop solutions.  Teach leaders how to have tough conversations in a productive manner that leaves the employee feeling encouraged.  Today only 21% strongly agrees that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.  Throw out your annual performance evaluations!  Organizations are realizing that more frequent, ongoing coaching conversations may be the missing link in performance management.  Employees who have had conversations with their manager in the last six months about their goals and successes are 2.8 times more likely than other employees to be engaged

Opportunities to shine-Determine their strengths and give them opportunities to do what they do best!  Provide opportunities for employees to learn and challenge themselves in a way that is exciting to them (ex. lead a meeting or innovative project, attend specialized training, be a mentor/coach.)

Flexibility- 43% of workers surveyed are working remotely at least part of the time.  This is up 4% in the last 4 years.  Offer flexible job conditions and watch for possible burnout.

Managers must become coaches-Leaders need to shift from performance management to performance development.  Last month we talked about the business case for coaching in our blog.  Teach your leaders to establish expectations, continually coach and create accountability.  Provide them with the tools to become outstanding coaches.   

Authentic appreciation-Employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely as those who do feel adequately recognized to say they'll quit in the next year.  This is a big missed opportunity for many.  Learn how each employee likes to be recognized.  Emphasize why the act was important and the impact it had.  The best recognize employees every 7 days!  This month is employee appreciation day.  How will you let your team know that they are cherished?

7 Mistakes Companies Make when Trying to Change to a Winning Culture

  1. They don’t hire to the new culture they are trying to create.  They hire for the current company culture.
  2. They don’t move tenured employees out of the business who cannot adapt to the new way.  This holds the business back and creates a ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ culture of stagnation
  3. They want a quick fix.  Like a marketing campaign, they want to launch today and see results tomorrow.  Real change takes time, perseverance and support from the top.
  4. Not all senior leaders buy in to the change and can create hurdles by not holding their department teams accountable to the new direction
  5. They don’t integrate the new culture into their way of doing business.  The culture will not sustain itself if it’s not incorporated into the business.  Systems, processes, and policies all need to be changed to support the new direction.
  6. They don’t get feedback from their employees on what they need and desire.  They assume they know.  Today’s generation has different ideas from past generations about what makes a culture engaging.
  7. They ask their employees for feedback but they don’t listen.  They don’t take action on changing anything meaningful.  This is even worse than not asking and can do damage to the trust leaders have with their employees.

Happy Employees Create Huge Profits

For companies looking for ways to boost their financial health, studies suggest that focusing on employee happiness, often referred to as employee engagement, is essential. Although the idea of employee “happiness” may be seen in the corporate world as fluffy or soft, you cannot argue the connection studies have found between employee engagement and a company’s profit margin. Why does employee engagement or happiness count? Employees have a lot of effort to give at their discretion. If you engage and motivate employees, they have a lot of effort to provide the company, leading to increased profits. Many studies back up this concept as well.

One recent study from Perspectives on Psychological Science, which was done by Gallup, Inc., looked at the impact of employee work perceptions on an organization’s bottom line. According to the abstract, it is already known that employee attitudes affect customer loyalty, company sales, company profits and employee retention, but the study went further to find out that positive employee perspectives can improve a company’s bottom line, while negative perspectives can damage the bottom line of the company. [1]

Analysis brought up in the report, “Engage Employees and Boost Performance,” from Fortune Magazine showed that pro-employee measures helped to increase stock appreciation significantly. In the same report, a study done at Sheffield University was noted to show that people management practices improved profitability and could be an excellent indicator of overall company performance financially. [2]

The studies back up the advantage of “happy” employees for companies today. Reports from Hewitt Associates showed that improving employee morale helps to create excitement about the company’s future. Companies that have the highest morale and employee engagement also learn to identify potential problems and address them early.[3]

Employee engagement is not something that companies can afford to ignore, since so many studies back up the idea that engaged employees result in profits. Companies today need to learn the drivers of employee engagement, increasing employee engagement and happiness to enjoy increased profit margins. There is nothing soft about cold, hard cash.

[1] Casual Impact of Employee Work Perceptions on the Bottom Line of Organizations [2] Engage Employees and Boost Performance [3] Why Happy Employees are Good for Business