Disengaged employees have a significant negative impact on an organisation whilst engaged employees can really help to boost the bottom line. This is why more attention is being devoted to Employee Engagement now than at any other time during the past 20 years particularly as we emerge from the recession and the employment market recovers and improves.
In recent years, the results of many Employee Engagement surveys have all revealed the same common complaints – scarce training opportunities, a lack of decision making ability and non-understanding or appreciation of company goals.
According to the CIPD, 40% of employees are disengaged in the workplace and, if they do resign, it is generally down to an individual rather than the organisation as a whole. According to the CBI, sick days cost the UK economy £13.4bn every year with disengaged employees taking 6.19 days off sick per year compared to an average of only 2.69 amongst engaged employees (source: CBI-AXA (2007), Annual Absence and Labour Turnover Survey). Little wonder then that employee engagement is such a hot topic.
Organisations with high levels of staff engagement have a higher rate of staff retention because engaged staff are 87 percent more likely to stay with the organisation. The cost of hiring and training new personnel is put at an average cost of one year’s salary per new employee. If it can be said that in the vast majority of instances employee disengagement lies with a poor quality relationship with a manager or managers, then the solution can always be sought at that team’s level.
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The quality of any professional relationship, experience or culture is dependent on conversations: whether or not we have them, their content and the level of skill we choose to deploy during them. Conversations can be separated into two distinct areas: Functional and Reactive. Functional conversations consist of thoughtful, proactive and useful content whilst Reactive conversations are dysfunctional, clumsy and pointless. Regardless of the conversation type, it will cost the business time, energy and resource; Functional in a positive way because it will lead to increased productivity and Reactive in a negative way because it fosters bad feeling, resentment, stress and bad experiences….
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It appears that there is no easy, superficial way to attain true employee engagement. In other words, there is more to it than being a caring boss, according to a recent IMD (International Institute for Management Development) business school study. The findings resulted from a study of employees at a successful recruitment agency which specialises in providing service sector managers. According to IMD research co-author Professor Ginka Toegel, “managers tend to regard emotional support as above and beyond their responsibilities and therefore worthy of reciprocation in the form of greater commitment… For example, they might think an employee they have helped should have no qualms about working a little bit harder or staying a little bit later to meet a deadline.”….
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Engagement is for Leaders to take on personally and to make it stick in their organisation by their actions and behaviours. Leaders who want to engage better need to start with themselves and be present. In The Power of Engagement, authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwarz talk about how four areas are critical for building the capacity to live a productive fully engaged work/life, four separate but related sources of energy – physical, emotional mental and spiritual. But we need to recognise what we need to do and this is often difficult unless we are present….
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