The company was in trouble: The value of its stock had dropped to just $1 a share. So the CEO decided to level with the workers about just how bad it was—and he laid out a plan to turn things around. The employees responded with renewed dedication and effort that helped the business rebound, and the stock price has since jumped to $20 a share.
It goes to show that transparency and confidence in an organization can inspire employees to be engaged—meaning they’re involved, enthusiastic and committed to their work.
The need to increase engagement is pressing. Recent surveys show that it is on the rise, but the overall picture is still pretty bleak. Only about 34 percent of U.S. workers—and 13 percent worldwide—report that they are engaged at work, according to Gallup data.
Those numbers translate into more than just a shortage of smiles around the lunchroom. Engagement correlates with productivity, customer service and profitability. So, for example, organizations with strong employee engagement scores generate revenue growth at a rate 2.5 times higher than companies with lower marks, according to the Hay Group, a management consulting company.
Stats like that aren’t lost on the C-suite: At least 85 percent of business leaders globally believe engagement is important, according to Bersin by Deloitte, a research and advisory firm.
But that number should be 100 percent, says Robin Erickson, Bersin’s vice president of talent acquisition, engagement and retention. Among the benefits, she notes, are lower turnover, better customer loyalty and improved safety. “All of those are bottom-line reasons organizations should care about employee engagement,” she says.
Many factors can impede meaningful engagement. These include organizational tumult, distrust of managers, job market unease, and a lack of cohesion among workers and teams.
But organizations that try to buy their employees’ enthusiasm and commitment are likely to be disappointed. While higher pay and better benefits generally improve a worker’s satisfaction and overall contentment, they don’t truly drive engagement and the extra effort that comes with it, engagement experts say.
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