This week a One News feature read: “Kiwis disgruntled at work.” Right Management surveyed 2000 New Zealanders finding that workplace satisfaction (engagement) has plummeted from 42% to 36% over the last 3 years. (Plummeted?)
Would you be happy as a business owner paying 100% of your staff 100% of their entitlement when less than 40% are engaged?
The researchers link this problem with:
- lower productivity
- higher staff turnover
- more absenteeism
- lower product and customer satisfaction
- reduced profit
- lower national gdp.
These disengagement effects are supported by international engagement research. The effect on GDP is supported by the Gallop Management Journal article (October 9, 2003) linking a minor drop in employee engagement with an estimated annual cost to the Singapore economy of between $4.9 billion and $6.7 billion.
The One News article quoted the researchers’ views about how to change this. In my experience, the most significant issue is leadership and people management capability. I have seen this positively (and the alternative negatively) impact organisations’ results within three months. Typically, organisations do not have a leadership strategy nor a clear set of agreed, monitored actions in this area. At best it is documented and we all know where good intentions invariably lead.
As an organisation grows, the leadership demand grows. This can highlight challenges within a leadership team. Divisions at “the top” can (usually do) have a ripple effect throughout an organisation. Add a GFC to the mix and you have stress at best and dysfunction at worst.
Many organisations are populated at management “levels” with technical experts bringing great analytical (even intuitive) strengths to their roles, who are often perplexed by the lack of alignment of others with what is clear – to them. This can result in mistrust, frustration and people holding on to tasks that should be delegated for optimum efficiency – for all resources to be used for best impact (and profit). Flow on effect? Disconnection.
Listening to staff this week reminded me how many leaders neglect this and the flow on effect to disengagement, even resentment. How can an organisation function effectively if leadership does not directly address and rectify this? It can’t. Yet few know how to. (What are they being paid for?)
Organisations today need capability to better manage complexity, uncertainty and rapidly -changing demands. This includes:
- harnessing (not alienating) human capability
- maintaining commitment at times of uncertainty
- giving a different meaning to what can be frustrating/confusing/perplexing and
- ensuring people willingly and creatively make things work better.
Where habits drive daily actions, organisations are less responsive – even maladaptive and rigid. Where these habits are not only role modelled at the “top” but these managers are seen as out of touch, uncaring and irrelevant to the daily experiences of staff, disengagement is a natural response.
Who would pay to bring a significant number of misguided missiles into the business, each day?