On a recent episode of my Future of Work Talk show, I interviewed my friend, Jill Christensen, best-selling author, international keynote speaker, and one of the leading experts in the world on the topic of employee engagement. I was initially drawn to Jill because we like, think about, write about, and speak about a lot of the same topics: The role culture plays in attracting, hiring, and retaining top talent, how engaged employees lead to business growth, profitability, and great customer experiences, and, well, you know, little things like that. There is unquestionably a global employee engagement crisis in organizations today, and fixing that is top of mind for business leaders and their HR counterparts.
The Employee Engagement Crisis
What is employee engagement? Is there really an employee engagement crisis? Employee engagement is defined as how connected, how invested, or how emotionally committed an employee is to the organization they work for and its goals. Do they care about the work they do? Do they care about the company they’re doing it for?
Great. Now we know what employee engagement is, but is there really an employee engagement crisis? Jill’s extensive research on this topic indicates that there is. In fact, data shows that on average a whopping 13 percent of employees are engaged. That means that there are some 87 percent of employees, the vast majority of folks in the workforce, don’t care. They are showing up, checking the boxes, and waiting until it’s either time to head home at the end of another day, or marking time until their next opportunity comes along.
I’d call that an employee engagement crisis, wouldn’t you?
Corporate Culture versus Employee Experience
Sometimes people get corporate culture and employee experience confused, but they are really very different things. Companies talk a lot about corporate culture, especially when they’re recruiting top talent in a highly competitive job market or writing copy for their websites. But sometimes talking the talk about culture and employee experience is different than walking the walk. How are they different? Corporate culture is ‘the way things work around here’ and employee experience is ‘the way I feel about how things work around here.’ Different. Very different.
Great Corporate Culture and Engaged Employees Fuel Digital Transformation
Companies the world over are rushing to embrace digital transformation and integrate technology into their business operations. The problem there is that all the tools and technology in the world don’t lead to successful digital transformation. That relies solely on people, and their ability to and interest in adopting technology as part of business operations. People are what make great companies great, not technology. Think about some of the best companies in the world, the ones known for great culture, happy employees, and great customer experiences. Costco, Zappos, Chik-Fil-A, Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines — these are all brands that I personally interact with and where I never encounter an unhappy or unpleasant employee. In my experience (and there’s also a fair amount of data to back this up, don’t think I’m just making this stuff up), the folks who work for these companies are universally wonderful to be around and to interact with. They care about their customers and it shows. I’d bet that is largely because they are highly engaged employees — employees who love the jobs they do and the companies they work for.
How to Get on the Right Track with Employee Engagement
As I mentioned, Jill’s an expert when it comes to cracking the code of employee disengagement, and her book: If Not You, Who? Cracking the Code of Employee Disengagement is a best-seller for good reason. Jill joined me recently for my Future of Work Talk show and we took a deep dive into this topic. We covered things like:
- How bad is the global employee engagement crisis?
- What are the benefits of having engaged employees?
- Why hasn’t progress been made in three decades?
- What can organizations do to change this and make progress?
Watch the video of our conversation here and take your first steps toward fixing the employee engagement levels within your organization.
If you prefer to listen, you can access the podcast here (and hey, subscribe while you’re there, we’ve got some great interviews coming up!):
What are your biggest challenges when it comes to the employee engagement crisis? Have you taken steps to figure out where your employees are on the engagement scale? If not, we have some suggestions for you on great vendor partners who can help with that, so let us know, we’ll be glad to point you in the right direction.
The original version of this article was first published on Future of Work.
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