Earlier this year, Gallup released their 2103 report, State of the Global Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for Business Leaders Worldwide. The report includes some troubling insights, prompting legitimate concerns about workplace productivity and employee retention - and encouraging many companies to look for solutions to improve employee engagement.
So what is employee engagement? Employee engagement measures whether you feel invested and committed to your job, and whether you're motivated to contribute to the success of your organization. Gallup identified three categories of employee engagement: Engaged, Not Engaged, and Actively Disengaged. "Engaged" employees feel inspired by their work, with a sense of passion and commitment to their company. Then you have those who are "Not Engaged" - they have checked out, putting in the time but not the energy or enthusiasm. Finally, you have the "Actively Disengaged" - employees so unhappy that they are actively undermining the success of the organization. According to a recent Gallup study, only 30% of employees are Engaged, and the other 70% are Not Engaged (50%) or Actively Disengaged (20%).
Note that employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction. Employee satisfaction focuses on whether you are content with your job and work environment. In contrast, employee engagement focuses on whether you feel committed to your work and your employer. Employee engagement is a measure of whether you feel inspired and passionate about your work; it is about feeling energized and enthusiastic about your contribution to the organization.
They say music is what feelings sound like - so what does feeling engaged sound like? It's hard to say, but guaranteed it is a positive, feel good anthem. Engaged employees may be singing James Brown's "I Feel Good" or maybe The Pointer Sisters' "I'm So Excited". Younger workers may relate more to U2's "Beautiful Day" or maybe the Owl City/Carly Rae Jepsen collaboration, "It's Always a Good Time". You get the idea. Those who are Not Engaged may be feeling more like Dolly Parton's "(Working) 9 to 5" or maybe Loverboy's "Working for the Weekend." Meanwhile, you're Actively Disengaged may be plotting to the tune of "Take This Job and Shove It."
It is important to recognize that every company is different and every employee is unique. What inspires and motivates one person may have no impact on the next. Extrinsic factors, like salary and bonus, can reward performance - but engagement is often driven by more intrinsic motivation. Employees will go above and beyond when they find the job to be personally rewarding. This suggests that companies hoping to improve employee engagement should avoid a one-size-fits-all solution, and adopt a more dynamic approach that will be relevant to different employees in different ways. For example, the Gallup report identifies a number of generational differences with regard to employee engagement.
According to Gallups research, the generations at the beginning and the end of their careers tend to be more engaged than those in the middle of their careers. That means Baby Boomers on the verge of retirement are more inclined to be sing along to the Turtles' "Happy Together" or the Beatles' "Getting Better" instead of The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". Generation X on the other hand, in the middle of their careers, may be making a mixed tape featuring the Talking Heads' classic "Life During Wartime" or perhaps REM's "Its the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Actively Disengaged)."
Millenials, at the beginning of their careers, may have Taylor Swift's "Stay Stay Stay" blasting on their iPods, but the Gallup research says they are also the most likely of all generations to say they will leave their jobs in the next 12 months if the job market improves. So, they may be changing their tune to "We are Never Ever Getting Back Together".
So, what does employee engagement sound like in your organization? Let us know. #workanthem
You can also download one of our recent white papers on employee engagement if you want to read more: