Most organizations of a reasonable size fall well short of maintaining happy workers and achieving high productivity. In my own observations over 25 years, a top employer is rare to find. Despite great advances in management training and in technology, most companies still don’t succeed – for many reasons.
How does your employer rate? And what can you do as a communicator to improve it?
The Great Place to Work Institute says engagement is the key. High engaged workplaces have employees who:
A positive approach to increasing happiness and productivity in the workplace
Engaged employees move the organization forward. Un-engaged workers basically sleepwalk through their workday, putting time but not energy, into their work. Actively disengaged workers cause damage their employer by actively undermining their own expected work and the work of others, thus causing billions of dollars in lost productivity.
ADP Research Institute poll
Only around 16% of workers worldwide were engaged at work in 2019, according to a global survey of 19,000 workers by the ADP Research Institute. The US average of around 16% seems to be in line with the average result around the world.
The study focused on aspects of engagement that an organization can influence rather than those that are usually beyond its control — such as political, economic, or individual concerns. ADPRI sought to capture the essence of engagement by asking every team member about the extent to which they agreed with 8 simple statements, on a 5-point scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.” These statements, the early formulations of which were first presented by researchers at Gallup and which have since been refined by researchers at Deloitte, Cisco, ADP, and several other companies, “have proved to be the most reliable and powerful way to explain the difference between the best work experiences and the rest,” according to ADPRI.
The 8 statements in the ADPRI study capture the emotional and attitudinal components of engagement, and the productive employee behaviors that flow as a result.
Better results in annual Gallup poll
Better news in Gallup’s annual engagement survey results, reported in May 2020, which found US engagement levels had reached a 20-year high of 38%, and conversely, disengagement levels averaged a record low of 13%. Gallup attributed the good 2020 result to three main factors:
(The 38% average US engagement levels shown in the Gallup survey for 2020 seem to be based on a slightly different focus from the ADPRI survey.)
Gallop’s annual employee engagement poll has been based on these 12 questions for 20 years:
Improvements in engagement
Gallup research attributes the improvement in overall employee engagement to changes in how organizations develop employees. High-performing organizations focus on creating high-development cultures, where people can see their impact on the organization and its customers through their work. They have opportunities to develop their strengths and purpose into a career. Gallup has identified four themes in organizations with high-development cultures:
Interestingly, the communication component mentioned in item 3 above seems to totally ignore the Internal Communication role. For item 3, Gallup merely states that:
Great workplaces are built through the day-to-day relationships that employees experience. According to the Great Places to Work Institute, the key factor in common in these relationships is trust. Trust is the defining principle of great workplaces — created through management’s credibility, the respect with which employees feel they are treated, and the extent to which employees expect to be treated fairly. The degree of pride and levels of authentic connection and companionship employees feel with one another are additional essential components.
From an employee’s perspective, a great workplace is one where they:
From a manager’s perspective, a great workplace is one where they:
There are nine ways – or practice areas – where leaders and managers create an environment of trust. Great workplaces achieve organizational goals by inspiring, speaking and listening. They have employees who give their personal best by thanking, developing and caring. And they work together as a team/family by hiring, celebrating and sharing.
How does management achieve credibility? By consistency, fairness, modelling desired behavior, maintaining good values and treating employees with respect. Good communication is central to all of this by directly influencing three key drivers of employee engagement:
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